Police custody in Gwent – detainees in custody suites treated with respect in good conditions

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Most detainees in Gwent police custody suites were treated with respect and consideration, and were held safely in good conditions, independent criminal justice inspectorates found in a joint report published today.

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Gwent – Joint inspection of police custody

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the unannounced inspection in July 2017 found improved medical provision for detainees, a concern in the last inspection in 2012. They noted, however, that more could still be done to improve support for those released from custody, the other principal concern in 2012.

Some concerns in 2017 centred on record keeping, the inspectors said.

“The overall quality of custody records was poor. This was disappointing because the records often did not reflect the standard of work that we observed in practice.”

Inspectors identified some procedural shortcomings and practices in the way the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and its codes of practice were applied. The force needed to make sure that notices setting out rights and entitlements were given to all detainees. There were also weaknesses in the governance of the use of force in custody: staff generally did not submit individual use of force forms to justify why they needed to use force against detainees. However, inspectors observed that in most cases staff dealt with challenging and vulnerable detainees in a patient and reassuring way.

A further concern related to children being held overnight in police custody in Gwent. Peter Clarke and Dru Sharpling noted that this issue had come up in many police custody inspections across England and Wales. “Despite robust monitoring, as we commonly find on these inspections, children charged and refused bail continued to be held in custody overnight, with very few moved to alternative local authority-provided accommodation,” the report said.

Inspectors found “some strong work” with partners to try to divert children from the criminal justice system. However, Gwent Police, they said, needed to strengthen its joint working with local authority partners to ensure that children charged and refused bail were always looked after properly.

Peter Clarke and Dru Sharpling said:

“Despite the weaknesses identified, overall this was a positive report. Importantly, detainees held in police custody in Gwent are treated with respect. We look forward to seeing the force continue this work to make provision for detainees even better.”

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Gwent – Joint inspection of police custody

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. On 19 July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
  3. HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
  4. This joint custody suite inspection was carried out between 10-20 July 2017.
  5. This report is part of a programme of unannounced inspections of police custody carried out jointly by the two inspectorates and which form a key part of the joint work programme of the criminal justice inspectorates. These inspections also contribute to the United Kingdom’s response to its international obligation to ensure regular and independent inspection of all places of detention. The inspections look at strategy, treatment and conditions, individual rights and health care.
  6. We last inspected Gwent Police custody in September 2012, when we found that, in most respects, there was a reasonably good standard of provision. Our two principal concerns were about weaknesses in medical provision and the support provided to detainees on release.
  7. Please contact John Steele (HMIP Press Office) on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 or Raymond Li (HMICFRS Press Office) on 020 3513 0634 if you would like more information.

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