Cheshire Constabulary’s custody suites have been rated as good in a new report released today, Friday 1 February 2019.
The report, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), follows an unannounced inspection which took place between Monday 3 and Thursday 13 September 2018.
The inspectors assessed the effectiveness of custody services and outcomes for detained people throughout the different stages of detention.
It also examined the force’s approach to custody provision in relation to safe detention and the respectful treatment of detainees, with a particular focus on vulnerable people and children.
Generally, the report was extremely positive - with inspectors stating that significant progress had been made by the force since the last inspection in 2013.
They also praised the provision of mental health liaison and diversion services along with the work undertaken in order to divert people experiencing mental health issues away from custody.
Inspectors also found that the Health services in custody were very good, particularly praising the exemplary partnership work between the police and health service providers.
They were positive about the treatment of children in police custody. Stating that all custody staff recognised the importance of child safeguarding and that there was close monitoring of all children held overnight, including arrangements for joint monitoring with partner agencies.
One cause of concern was raised in relation to the force not always complying with PACE codes of practice C and G, which related to information not being recorded correctly on detention logs.
Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire David Keane, said: “This glowing report of Cheshire’s custody suites is testament to the hard work of police officers and staff who work in the units and to the dedication of volunteer Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) who give up their free time to ensure detainees are treated with respect and have access to appropriate facilities.
“ICVs act as ‘critical friends’ providing me with invaluable feedback on the welfare of detainees from an independent, impartial and non-discriminatory view of all parties involved in the custody process.
“Over the last year, ICVs made a total of 150 unannounced visits to custody suites across Cheshire, offering to check on the welfare of 1,189 detainees. I am extremely grateful for their commitment and support in ensuring the standards of our custody suites remain at a good level.”
Superintendent Gareth Lee, head of the criminal justice department, added: “Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of this report.
“Here in Cheshire we have a dedicated team of staff and officers who are committed to ensuring that all detainees are treated with dignity and respect and this reports goes some way towards recognising the work that they do on a daily basis.
“While the majority of the report is extremely positive, I do acknowledge the recommendations that have been made and we will work to address them over the coming months.”
During their inspection the team visited Cheshire’s three custody suited in Blacon, Middlewich and Runcorn which house a total on 90 cells.
Inspectors found that the overall conditions and cleanliness across the custody estate, including cells, was good and all detainees were generally treated well and were positive about their care.
They also met with a number of custody sergeants, inspectors and detention officers who work across the three suites.