Police custody in north Wales improves report says but concerns raised over strip searches.
North Wales Police custody has improved say Inspector’s however, concerns are raised around the numbers of detainees strip searched at St Asaph custody suite.
Inspectors found the number of detainees strip searched to be five times higher at St Asaph custody suite than at Wrexham, despite a similar number of people detained by the Police in each suite.
Police custody in North Wales has improved and was generally positive, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary following an unannounced inspection between 29 September – 3 October 2014, the report has been published today;
North Wales – Joint inspection of police custody suites
The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and the second inspection of North Wales Police custody suites, the first inspection was in September 2010.
For this more recent inspection, inspectors visited the full-time custody suites at Caernarfon, St Asaph and Wrexham and the part-time suites at Dolgellau and Holyhead.
Inspectors say they were pleased to find that:
- custody was mostly well managed;
- there were good provisions for learning and disseminating information among staff;
- the suite at Wrexham had been improved and plans were well advanced for the provision of a new suite there;
- staff related to detainees in a professional and courteous manner, using excellent interpersonal skills;
- staff were able to identify vulnerabilities and in most instances they provided the appropriate level of care;
- there was a good focus on upholding detainees’ rights, alternatives to arrest were well used and detention times were mostly kept to a minimum;
- health care in custody was generally good and substance misuse services were also held in high regard;
- the mental health provider accepted referrals from nurses; and
- for a year, there had been a commendable reduction in the use of police custody as a place of safety for people detained by police under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. However, very recently the overall uses of section 136 had risen significantly. The force should satisfy itself that officers are using their powers proportionately.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- some data collection and analysis was inadequate, including recording the use of force and requests for alternative accommodation for children facing detention;
- far more detainees were strip-searched at St Asaph than at the other suites and the reasons for this discrepancy had not been identified; and
- appropriate adult services were of variable quality.
The reports says:
Very few strip-searches were conducted at the time of the inspection. Data supplied by the force showed that the number of strip-searches at St Asaph was nearly five times higher than at Wrexham, despite similar throughput at the two suites, which was concerning. In one case, custody staff asked a female detainee to remove all her clothes and put on an anti-rip gown in a cell monitored by CCTV which was visible on the monitor behind the custody desk. This was inappropriate.
Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:
“This report recognises a range of achievements by North Wales Police in their custody provision. It makes a number of recommendations to the force and the Police and Crime Commissioner concerning the comparatively small number of areas where outcomes for detainees were less good, to help the force address those as well. We expect an action plan to be provided in due course.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com