Force and PCC welcomes positive custody inspection report

Dorset Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) have welcomed a report which concludes that the Force manages its custodial services well.

Force and PCC welcomes positive custody inspection report

The report followed inspections conducted jointly by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). They assessed the strategy in place to manage Dorset Police’s custodial services as well as the treatment, conditions, individual rights and health care provided to those held within the Bournemouth and Weymouth custody suites, and the reserve suite in Poole. 

The inspectorates found that overall Dorset Police managed its custodial services well, the detainees were treated appropriately to their needs and the conditions they were held in were good. 

The report acknowledged that the number of people brought into custody under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act had been greatly reduced and mental health provision had ‘improved considerably and was excellent’. This positive result follows the introduction of a mental health street triage service and a revised multi-agency policy to improve outcomes for this vulnerable group. 

Positive recognition was given to the Force regarding its monitoring of the use of force within custody and was described as ‘commendable’. The report stated that when used, it was proportionate, with good efforts made to de-escalate situations.

The report noted that Dorset Police needs to improve its procedures when dealing with detained children in order to try and reduce the number of children being held unnecessarily in police cells. However, it is recognised that the number of children brought into custody had reduced and they were treated as vulnerable due to their age. It was also recognised that the Force is already in discussions with local authorities in order to provide alternative accommodation to police cells for detained children. 

The inspectorates concluded that physical conditions were good and detainees were looked after appropriately. The report acknowledged that custody staff were good at interacting with detainees and were aware of how to deal with those with vulnerabilities, as well as focusing on delivering safe custody for all.

Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable, Mark Cooper, said: “I very much welcome the HMIC and HMIP’s report on our custodial services and that our efforts are being viewed positively.

“The report demonstrates that we have made great improvements in a number of areas and we will continue to ensure further progressions for our custodial services. 

“I am pleased that once again the Force is being recognised for how it deals with vulnerable people, and notably those with mental health concerns.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “I am pleased that Dorset Police is being recognised for its efforts in dealing with vulnerable people in custody and that the number of people being detained in custody under the Mental Health Act is continuing to reduce.

“It is clear from the report that the Force is working hard to ensure that vulnerable people receive the appropriate care and it is important that those with mental health concerns are looked after by a health care professional, not by a police officer and not in a police cell. 

“The report also highlights the dedication and commitment of our independent custody visiting team, who volunteer their time to check on the welfare of detainees.  We’re currently looking to expand this team and would like to invite applications from across Dorset. More information can be found at www.dorset.pcc.police.uk/ICV

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