Today, Wednesday 8th February, His Majesty’s Inspectorate published their findings from an inspection of our custody suites during August, September and October 2022. The report covers the effectiveness of custody services and outcomes for detained people throughout the different stages of detention. It examined the force’s approach to custody provision around detaining people safely and respectfully, with a particular focus on children and vulnerable adults.
The report makes six recommendations to address the main causes of concern and highlights a further 13 areas for improvement, however, also pays particular recognition to the work being done in GMP’s custody suites to work alongside mental health partner organisations to meet the needs of those who need it, and take them out of custody to specialist help where appropriate.
The report’s key areas for concern cover leadership, legal compliance, the use of force, detainee dignity, risk management and medicine management. A full version of the report can be read here.
Work is already underway to address the concerns raised in the report, including oversight and leadership, with the appointment of Assistant Chief Constable Colin McFarlane, and the appointment of a new Chief Superintendent and Superintendent into the branch to oversee the direct response to the HMIC inspection findings.
To support the implementation of improvements, an initial investment of five additional temporary inspectors has been introduced to assist and oversee compliance and raise standards. An additional 10 custody sergeants will also be added to the team. This additional resource and leadership will ensure custody staff are getting the support needed to drive improvement plans forward and ensure custody suites are managing the rising demand of increasing arrest numbers and people coming through detention.
Work has already started on addressing recording use of force, with increased oversight and daily audits taking place to identify where force has been used. Any use of force giving rise for concern are subject to a deeper review via site CCTV analysis. Issues and learning opportunities are now captured and dealt with swiftly with individuals, site Inspectors and where appropriate GMP’s Professional Standards Branch and Operational Training. As with use of force, the use of Anti-Rip clothing is now scrutinised on a daily basis.
In relation to the control of medicines and secure storage, the established processes have been reinvigorated with all members of staff, and a revised daily recording and audit process is carried out by Sergeants and by the site Inspector every week.
ACC Colin McFarlane said, “It is my utmost priority to quickly address these issues and put in place measures which enable our custody staff to do their job effectively, professionally and to the highest standard possible.
“It is important to recognise that this report consistently acknowledges the hard work our custody staff and officers do, particularly for those who come into custody with mental health issues, whilst working in what can be a very difficult and volatile environment.
“GMP’s improvement plan has seen the Force become the most improved in the country, and our strategy to be more proactive in arresting people and getting criminals off our streets has created additional demand on our custody resources and capability, which I am here to address. We cannot and will not stop arresting people who cause a blight on our communities, however, no matter how busy our custody suites are, we must ensure we are treating people fairly and with dignity. We have not waited for the report to be published to take action and we are already very much on our way to addressing all areas for concern, including robust leadership and oversight, increased scrutiny on use of force and anti-rip clothing, enhanced measures to secure medication, and thorough regular review and auditing procedures to ensure compliance and professionalism.
“I have already personally met a significant number of our custody suite staff and I firmly believe with the right leadership and working practices in place, we can and will improve our service level, and support our force as we arrest more people and get criminals off the streets and through the criminal justice process.”