Police officers and staff actively consider alternatives to custody and in particular are alert to, identify and effectively respond to vulnerabilities that may increase the risk of harm. They divert away from custody vulnerable people whose detention may not be appropriate.

Assessment at first point of contact

2.1 From the first point of contact with TACT detention, officers and staff are alert to, identify and make effective assessments of risk and vulnerability. Through cooperation with the Counter Terrorism Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) they divert individuals, whose detention in a police cell might not be appropriate, from police custody.

Indicators (what we expect to see)

  • All officers and staff are trained to identify the needs of persons with vulnerabilities and have access to training to improve decision-making on diversion, detention, custody provision and their own practice.
  • Detainees are provided as soon as possible with sufficient information to understand the reason(s) for their arrest and their legal rights.
  • Officers understand that if a detainee does not speak or understand English or has a hearing or speech impediment special provision must be made for them.
  • All officers and staff having contact with children recognise them as vulnerable by virtue of their age and treat them accordingly. There is a presumption that police custody is not the most appropriate place for children. Officers and staff are trained to identify when diversion is appropriate and the alternatives to custody.
  • There are systems and protocols in place to support officers and staff in identifying individuals with known vulnerabilities and relevant history.
  • Officers and staff are trained to identify when medical assessment is required (for physical or mental health) and have access to suitable medical practitioners when necessary. Medical practitioners will be trained in the management of those healthcare problems associated with detention such as drug and alcohol withdrawal.
  • All officers and staff are trained in conflict management and apply de-escalation techniques.
  • All officers and staff are trained in the use of force and the use of restraint. In particular, they will not use force unless it is necessary to do so and the force used is reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances.
  • Information obtained about detainees’ needs and vulnerabilities, particularly information about medical needs, is shared appropriately between all relevant staff.
  • Officers and staff apply the principles of the Mental Capacity Act in their decision-making, where appropriate.
  • Arresting officers communicate as necessary all relevant information to contribute to the risk assessment process. Any detainee who is identified as vulnerable should be treated as a priority.
  • Any detainee in need of medical assessment or treatment will receive that as a matter of urgency.
  • Detainees are not made to wait outside the police station in vehicles for lengthy periods of time. There is an ongoing risk assessment of all detainees where there is a delay in booking in.
  • All detainees are given adequate comfort breaks and refreshment, particularly if detained in vehicles awaiting booking in. In particular, staff will consider and provide for the needs of detainees with disabilities or physical or mental health needs.
  • The Force has systems in place to ensure that transport used for detained individuals is sanitary, safe and appropriate.
  • All officers and staff are aware of the detainee’s rights as set out in the current PACE Code H and trained to ensure compliance. The Code will be available for consultation by officers, staff, detainees and members of the public.

Human rights standards

In relation to expectation 2.1: Human rights standards provide a range of measures to ensure detainees, from the first point of contact to release, are treated with dignity and respect and are safe from harm. Forces are under a positive obligation to identify and make provision for the particular health and other needs of detainees. Moreover, they must ensure that detainees have been provided with information relating to their rights on arrest and detention in a language and manner they understand and that those rights are protected. See ECHR 2, 3, 5, 6, 8; ICCPR 6, 7, 10(1); CAT 10, 11, 12, 13, 16; CRPD 14; BOP 1, 2, 6, 10, 12, 13, 16, 20, 21, 24, 29; PPMI 1, 2, 20; CCLEO 2, 3, 6; DRM 4. In relation to children specifically see CRC 3, 37, 40.