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Trailblazing custody visitors report on care of vulnerable detainees

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa welcomed the findings of a new report examining the welfare of vulnerable detainees held in police custody.

The county is at the forefront of a pioneering new system of police custody inspection evaluating the care and support of vulnerable people including those with mental health or learning difficulties, migrants and children.

The scheme, which involves the retrospective review of custody records and is part of the PCC’s existing Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme, which is one of only two schemes in the country to receive the coveted Platinum Award for quality, was piloted between April and September 2018.

The model, which has now been rolled out across the Force, has since been commended by the Home Office and the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) has now instigated a national pilot where five other schemes in the UK are trialling Derbyshire’s system.

Since the success of the new model, Derbyshire have further enhanced the ICV scheme, launching a fresh pilot in April 2019 focusing on more observational inspections.

Currently focused on the Derby custody facilities, it paves the way for ICVs to take the time to observe their surroundings and report upon the culture, environment and wider processes underway in custody rather than merely interviewing detainees and recording their opinions.

The new system, which has received positive feedback from custody staff, will roll out to the custody suite in Chesterfield in November.

A new report presented to members of the Commissioner’s Strategic Priorities Assurance (SPA) Board reveals the outcomes of the record reviewing and visits across Derbyshire’s Custody Suites

Volunteers noted that in 100% of cases, handcuffs were removed from the vulnerable detainees at the earliest opportunity while all risk assessments included an appropriate range of questions to assess the detainees’ risk effectively.

All ICVs noted a positive staff attitude towards the detainee upon release, including the handing over of appropriate support leaflets, and felt the suites were clean and well-looked after. Their visits also demonstrated that on the whole, women detainees were offered sanitary products, and that between December and June 2019, all women detainees were assigned a female single point of contact.

There were some areas of improvement identified, however, and the ICVs noted a faster system for requesting an Appropriate Adult (AA) for people with mental health vulnerabilities was needed – even though Derbyshire requests far more AAs than most other force areas.

In addition, ICVs recorded long delays for interpreters to arrive in immigration cases, although this did not appear to delay interviews which they said suggests a possible recording issue.

They also reported instances where detainees with a mental health vulnerability were not being seen by an accredited mental health practitioner in a timely manner or faced a lengthy delay waiting for a bed in a health-based place of safety.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dhindsa said: “On the whole, the findings show vulnerable detainees are being treated with the compassion, respect and understanding they need to cope with the detention environment although clearly there are some very pertinent issues to follow up.

“One of the purposes of this new robust system is to identify any areas of weaknesses so we can continually improve standards and ensure we fully meet the needs of this group. Some of the challenges we face are beyond our control, nevertheless I will be working with the force to address any inconsistencies in performance at the earliest opportunity.

“Our scheme has been recognised as best practice nationally. The meaningful way we collect our data and research will continue to help us to meet our welfare obligations and ensure those who need it receive help not punishment to recover.”

An information evening is being held to recruit new policing volunteers, including up to 10 ICVs across Derbyshire. The event will be held at Force Headquarters in Ripley (Butterley Hall, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3RS) between 6pm and 8pm on Thursday 24 October. Visitors are asked to arrive between 5.30pm and 5.45pm. Light refreshments will be served during the evening. Book your place : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/information-evening-for-opcc-volunteering-opportunities-tickets-73120951735



Media Enquiries:  Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401



Posted on Friday 11th October 2019
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