TACT custody Expectations

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Welcome to the first edition of Expectations: Criteria for assessing the treatment of and conditions for detainees in designated TACT custody suites, the standards by which we inspect outcomes for people detained for terrorism-related offences. The Expectations arise from the requirement to inspect treatment and conditions in these suites. This edition builds on our Expectations for police custody while recognising the distinct experience detainees held in designated TACT custody may have. These Expectations allow us to fulfil our responsibility to deliver independent and objective assessments of outcomes for detainees in TACT custody.

The requirement to inspect TACT custody suites arises from the UK’s status as a party to the UN Optional Protocol against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). OPCAT aims to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty from ill-treatment, including by requiring States to have in place a system of regular, independent visits to all places of detention. OPCAT sets out both an international and a national framework for monitoring detention. At the national level, States Parties must establish or designate an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to carry out visits to places of detention. The UK’s NPM is made up of 21 established bodies, including HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMI Prisons).

The NPM must:

  • regularly examine the treatment of people deprived of their liberty in places of detention
  • make recommendations to the relevant authorities with the aim of improving the treatment of and conditions for detainees
  • submit proposals and observations concerning existing draft legislation.

The responsibility for inspecting and reporting on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces in England and Wales falls to HMICFRS (under Section 54(2), Police Act 1996). Since the start of the police custody inspection programme in 2008, HMICFRS has delegated certain functions to

HMI Prisons to enable a joint approach, drawing on the combined expertise of both inspectorates (under Schedule 4A, Police and Justice Act 2006). The joint HMICFRS/HMI Prisons national programme of unannounced police custody inspections ensures that custody suites in all 43 police forces in England and Wales are scrutinised, at a minimum, every six years. TACT custody suites have, until now, fallen outside of that national programme.

The Expectations set out the framework and criteria used by the inspectorates to assess police custody arrangements and the outcomes for those detained in TACT custody. They are independent but are informed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and its codes, relevant legislation, professional guidance to the police on detention and custody (Authorised Professional Practice on Detention and Custody, College of Policing, July 2015) and relevant international and regional human rights standards. The Expectations are also drawn from inspection experience and wider consultation with external experts. They incorporate learning from the HMICFRS-led thematic inspection of the welfare of vulnerable people in police custody (vulnerability is linked, in many cases, to a minority status that increases the risks of stigmatisation and ill-treatment; individuals may therefore be vulnerable in a given context and not in another. The welfare of vulnerable people in police custody, HMIC, March 2015) and from the cumulative experience of our joint inspections of police custody to date.

The Expectations will be used by HMICFRS and HMI Prisons inspectors to assess the custody arrangements of TACT custody suites in England, with a particular focus on the treatment and conditions of those detained. They also offer a guide to the public, senior police officers, the National Counter Terrorism Policing HQ and police and crime commissioners as to the standards we expect police forces to meet.

Expectations are grouped under five inspection areas:

  • Leadership, accountability and partnerships
  • Pre-custody: first point of contact
  • In the custody suite: booking in, individual needs and legal rights
  • In the custody cell, safeguarding and health care
  • Release and transfer from custody.

Expectations set out the outcomes we expect police forces to achieve.

Indicators suggest evidence that may demonstrate whether the outcomes have been met. Forces do not have to meet each indicator; the list is not exhaustive and does not exclude other means of achieving the outcome.

This version of the Expectations takes effect from December 2018.

Wendy Williams

HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons