Cheshire’s custody suites praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service Date published: 1st February 2019 12.43pm

Cheshire Constabulary’s custody suites have been praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) following an unannounced inspection which took place between Monday 3rd and Thursday 13th September 2018.

Inspectors from HMICFRS and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons assessed the effectiveness of custody services and examined the process from the point someone is arrested and detained to when they are released.

They also looked at the force’s approach to safe detention and the respectful treatment of those arrested, with a particular focus on vulnerable people and children.

In general, the report was extremely positive, with inspectors noting that significant progress has been made by Cheshire Constabulary since its last inspection in 2013.

Inspectors praised the way that the force deals with people with mental health issues in custody and highlighted the work being done to divert those experiencing mental health issues away from custody in the first place.

They also found that health services provided in the custody suites were ‘very good’ – in particular the ‘exemplary’ partnership work between police officers and health service providers.

HMICFRS were positive about the way children are treated in Cheshire’s custody suites recognising the importance of safeguarding young people and acknowledging that there is close joint monitoring of all children held in custody overnight.

One recommendation was raised in relation to officers not always complying fully with PACE codes of practice C and G – these relate to information not always being recorded correctly on detention logs – along with some other areas for improvement.

Chief Inspector Rob Dickinson said: “We are proud of the service we provide in our custody suites across Cheshire. We have a dedicated team of officers and staff who are committed to ensuring that all those who end up in custody are treated with dignity and respect, have access to everything they need and that those who are vulnerable have any additional support they may need.

“Overall, this is an extremely positive report for the force and it is encouraging to see that the efforts of all those involved in the custody process on a daily basis are recognised.

“A number of areas of good practice are highlighted and we will make sure that these continue. There is one recommendation made and some areas for improvement and work to address these issues is already underway.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire David Keane, added: “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.”

During its inspection HMICFRS visited all three custody suites in Runcorn, Middlewich and Chester. Inspectors found that the overall conditions and cleanliness were good and all those arrested were generally treated well and were positive about the care they received.

They also met with a number of custody sergeants, inspectors and detention officers who work across the three sites.