Mixed results in cop custody probe report

Police custody in Greater Manchester has improved, but could make further progress.

That was the verdict of Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons Martin Lomas and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary following an unannounced joint inspection.

Since the first one in 2012, the report authors say there have been various improvements and the force has responded well to lessons learnt and recommendations.

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Inspectors visited a number of custody suites including Wigan’s, looking at strategy, treatment and conditions, individual rights and health care.

Shortcomings included custody staff not recording, monitoring or analysing the use of force; written records did not always reflect the standard and quality of risk assessments which took place; health care response times were not always met because of the exceptionally high demand; and most suites did not have effective drug and alcohol services.

But inspectors were pleased to find a good partnership with mental health organisations and councils; the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner was actively involved in improving facilities for people needing mental health support; staff interaction with detainees was mostly good if inconsistent; appropriate adult schemes for vulnerable prisoners were good; and health care overall was adequate and mental health provision was much better.

Supt Chris Hankinson from GMP’s Criminal Justice and Custody Branch said: “We have made great strides in our efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people who find themselves in police custody, particularly when assessing and managing risk to detainees, and this was well evidenced in the report.

“A programme of work is ongoing to ensure all points mentioned in the report are addressed.”