Inspectors reveal custody failings

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POLICE custody facilities in Lincolnshire need urgent improvement, according to a report by an independent inspectorate.

The report looked at the police custody suites in five police stations, including Grantham with its 14 cells, and found “continued failings that had been identified by other external bodies”.

The provision for dealing with detainees with mental health issues was branded “extremely poor”, in part due to a lack of co-operation with local mental health bodies.

The reports added: “In too many cases, police stations were used as places of safety under the Mental Health Act, rather than detainees being taken to community provision.”

Nick Hardwick, HM Inspector of Constabulary said: “Overall, this is a disappointing inspection.

“It came at a time when the force was undergoing significant change, which perhaps helped explain why we identified continued failings that had been previously identified by other external bodies.”

At Grantham, it was found there were insufficient plastic handcuffs to evacuate all detainees from the building safely and securely if necessary.

The inspection also found that it was difficult for detainees to make a complaint while in custody.

Mr Hardwick says Lincolnshire Police must focus on improving risk assessment and mental health services.

However, the report, which followed an unannounced inspection earlier this year, also praised certain areas of police custody suites.

The interaction between staff and detainees was said to be professional. Grantham was signalled out for particular praise, with inspectors saying they witnessed “some excellent interactions”.

However, Lincolnshire Police is being asked to provide an action plan to show how the force is going to make improvements.

Mr Hardwick said: “This report sets out a number of recommendations that we hope will assist the Chief Constable and the Police Authority to improve the quality of custody provision.

“We expect them to consider these in the wider context of force priorities and resourcing, and to provide us with an action plan in due course.”