Police custody suites in Essex making progress, says inspectorate report

PUBLISHED: 14:50 29 August 2017

HM Inspectorate of Prisons says Essex Police is making progress in its management of custody suites. Picture: STOCK IMAGE/ARCHANT

HM Inspectorate of Prisons says Essex Police is making progress in its management of custody suites. Picture: STOCK IMAGE/ARCHANT

Archant

Progress is being made to improve police custody suites across the county, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

The document, which was published earlier this month, found Essex Police staff treat detainees well and were sensitive when dealing with vulnerable people or those from minority backgrounds.

It also found that management of the use of force in custody was good, the standard of healthcare was adequate, and the force made sure detainees were released safely.

One of the suites inspected was Stansted, as well as others including Chelmsford, Harlow and Colchester.

Some areas were highlighted for concern though, such as several potential ligature points and Essex Police’s poor IT system.

Deputy Chief Constable BJ Harrington, said: “This is a positive report which demonstrates our strong commitment to the treatment and conditions experienced by people in our custody, particularly vulnerable people.

“Anyone brought into our custody is in our care and we hold that duty in the highest of priorities.

“In Essex we have a mix of new custody facilities designed to the highest specifications and an ageing estate which needs significant and regular maintenance. Action to remedy the issues found in the report had already been identified and begun prior to the unannounced inspection.”

The report also found the force did not comply with all procedures in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and that too many vulnerable adults were brought into custody as a place of safety.

DCC Harrington added: “Every day Essex Police deals with around 100 incidents involving people experiencing mental health issues, over 5,000 cases a year.

“Many of those incidents involve no crime being committed but, as an emergency service, our job is to keep people safe and prevent harm. Police officers can detain someone who is extremely vulnerable and at risk of coming to or causing harm and take them to a place of safety.

“Usually that place should be a mental health treatment unit but, if no places are available, detention in police stations can be used in exceptional circumstances and as a last resort. We work closely with partner agencies to ensure we can identify the best response for those experiencing mental health crises.”

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