Police custody in Hampshire was generally positive, but there are some further improvements to be made, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary. Today they published the report of an unannounced inspection.
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The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and the second inspection of Hampshire police custody cells. The first inspection was in 2012 when inspectors found a well-managed custody estate with a culture that treated detainees respectfully, but with some weaknesses in health care. More recently, inspectors found those existing strengths remained and there had been further improvements. The force was upgrading its custody estate, with new facilities scheduled to open from spring 2017.
Inspectors visited the custody suites at Aldershot, Basingstoke, Newport, Portsmouth Central and Southampton Central, as well as reserve suites at Fareham, Lyndhurst and Waterlooville. They looked at strategy, treatment and conditions, individual rights and health care.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- custody staff dealt with detainees in a respectful, compassionate and positive way;
- cells were generally clean and free from graffiti;
- significant improvements had been made in health care;
- the quality of support for detainees immediately before and on release was extremely good and reflected the high standard of professionalism shown by staff; and
- there had been reasonable attention to addressing issues raised following a self-inflicted death in custody in 2014.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- there were a substantial number of ligature points in the custody suites (although when inspectors raised this issue, the force took it very seriously);
- not enough data was gathered, including in relation to the use of force, which made it difficult for Hampshire Police and others to assess how well custody services performed;
- the number of detainees held under section 136 of the Mental Health Act as a place of safety had increased significantly in the previous six months; and
- most children charged and refused bail remained in custody overnight because the local authority did not provide alternative accommodation.
Peter Clarke and Dru Sharpling said:
“This was a positive inspection and given the very constructive immediate response to our initial findings, we are confident that the force has the necessary drive and commitment to make the required improvements.”
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- HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
- Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 enables a police officer to remove, from a public place, someone who they believe to be suffering from a mental disorder and in need of immediate care and control, and take them to a place of safety – for example, a health or social care facility, or the home of a relative or friend. In exceptional circumstances (for example if the person’s behaviour would pose an unmanageably high risk to others), the place of safety may be police custody. Section 136 also states that the purpose of detention is to enable the person to be assessed by a doctor and an approved mental health professional (for example a specially trained social worker or nurse), and for the making of any necessary arrangements for treatment or care.
- This joint inspection was carried out from 17-27 October 2016.
- Please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Prisons press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 or Candy Silver (HMIC) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information.