THE state of police cells in Wigan has been slammed following an investigation by the prisons inspectorate.
Graffiti, no daily checks, detainees being able to hear everything said at the booking-in desk and a lack of religious awareness have all been flagged up as unsatisfactory in cells at the borough’s stations.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) into examinations of police custody suites in Greater Manchester found Wigan to be lacking in certain areas and has called for improvements.
While not being the worst of Greater Manchester Police’s custody suites, the 29 cells across the borough were mentioned in certain areas of the report which led to the HMIP recommending upgrades be made by the force.
The defacement of cells was one area in which Wigan was criticised, the report stating: “At Wigan there were large amounts of graffiti on cell doors, some of which was dated 2008.”
The report also said that the requirement of daily checks varied across GMP, but: “At Wigan we could not find any records of recent daily cell checks.”
Another area identified for improvement was that privacy and confidentiality were compromised by the acoustics so that anybody being held in cells could hear conversations at the cell booking desk.
The report read: “The acoustics at Wigan were particularly poor. This meant that conversations at the booking-in desk could be clearly overheard by other detainees.”
The report also stated that across GMP: “detainees were not asked during the booking-in process if they wanted to observe any religious practices while in custody. All suites had a Qur’an, Bible and prayer mats, but these were not respectfully stored. The direction to Mecca was not indicated in all the cells.”
However GMP say the problems mentioned have since been rectified.
Superintendent Alan Greene of GMP said: “All the graffiti has been cleaned up and in relation to the acoustics, this is obviously a design fault which would be very expensive to rectify – our sergeants are aware of the situation and try to book in detainees with the minimum noise. In terms of the daily cell checks, they were being done, but there was a problem with recording them, which has now been resolved.”