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Monday 19 March 2018
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Preventing Deaths in Police Custody: Ensuring the Safe Handling and Detention of Vulnerable Persons


8th October 2014

Central London


Deaths in or following police custody is a highly sensitive and controversial issue that has a significant impact on communities’ trust and confidence in the police. In the last decade a number of high profile cases have focused public and media attention on the subject, particularly the police treatment of ethnic minority men, and have provoked long-term campaigns centred on allegations of racism, neglect, ill-treatment and police misconduct.


In March 2012, following recommendations and reports by the IPCC, HMIC and HMI Prisons, ACPO updated its operational ‘Guidance on the Safer Detention and Handling of Persons in Police Custody’ in an effort to raise standards of custodial care. In 2013 the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody also published Common Principles for Safer Restraint, providing further guidance on how officers should be trained, how officers should manage restraint, how to medically ensure safety and how each instance of restraint should be reported. Statistics published by the IPCC in July 2014 indicate that deaths in or following police custody are now at their lowest in a decade. However, the IPCC highlighted its concern that mental health disorders presented in a large number of deaths.


The Government has underlined its commitment to addressing the number of people with mental health illnesses that are taken in to police custody and is currently reviewing sections of the Mental Health Act that allow police power to temporarily remove people who appear to be suffering from a mental disorder and need urgent care or a place of safety. It is also considering whether the maximum length of detention is too long. In January 2014, the Government also pledged to invest £25 million into liaison and diversion services at police stations and courts across the country, in order to ensure that when someone in a police station or involved in court proceedings has a mental health problem they are referred to the right mental health services and are given the help and support they need.


Following concerns as to the effectiveness of the IPCC in holding the police to account, the Government is also diverting resources to the IPCC to enable it to carry out more independent investigations and to strengthen police accountability.


This special symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for police and custody officers, health and social care providers, contractors and other key stakeholders to examine how standards of care within custody can be further improved and how to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people with mental health problems when suffering a crisis.

Delegates will:

  • Examine how best to align your organisation’s practices with latest guidance to ensure the effective care of detainees
  • Discuss how to build public trust in the police through greater transparency and accountability
  • Assess how to better identify and monitor vulnerable detainees and those suffering a mental health crisis
  • Explore how to strengthen multi-agency working in order to improve information sharing and develop joint protocols for dealing with vulnerable detainees




09:30 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:15 Chair's Welcome and Introduction
10:30 Panel Session One:
Preventing Deaths and ‘Near Misses’ – The Next Steps to Deliver More Effective Care of Detainees
  • Managing the Safe and Decent Delivery of Custody – Ensuring Use of Force is Proportionate, Detention Appropriate, PACE Adhered to and Custodies Well-Staffed
  • Improving Police Responses – Training in First Aid, the Correct Use of Restraints, inc. During Transportation, and Dealing Effectively with Complications if they Arise
  • Strengthening Transparency and Accountability – Building Public Trust by Ensuring Deaths are Reported, Recorded, Investigated and Lessons are Learned
  • Identifying and Monitoring Vulnerable Detainees – Conducting Robust and Frequent Risk Assessments, Recording and Communicating Detainee’s Condition to Staff
  • Strengthening Multi-Agency Working between Police, Health Providers and Contractors to Improve Information Sharing and Develop Joint Protocols
11:15 Morning Coffee Break
11:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One
12:30 Networking Lunch
13:30 Panel Session Two:
Ensuring the Safe Handling and Detention of Vulnerable Persons in Police Custody - Providing Support and Protection During a Mental Health Crisis
  • Understanding and Safeguarding Detainees with Mental Health Needs or at Risk of Suicide/Self Harm, Training Staff in Suicide Prevention
  • Providing Alternative ‘Places of Safety’ and Fast-Tracking Assessments for Vulnerable Individuals Whenever a Police Cell is Used
  • Ensuring Detainees Have Access to Health and Social Care Services Appropriate to their Mental and Physical Needs including Emergency Medical Care and Medication
  • Ensuring Detainees are Properly Risk Assessed as Part of Pre-Release and that Appropriate Steps are Taken to Refer them to Other Services and Ensure their Safe Handover to Relatives, Carers or Professionals
  • Ensuring All Police Custody Suites Have Access to a Liaison and Diversion Service, Transferring the Commissioning and Budgetary Responsibility for Healthcare to the NHS
14:15 Afternoon Coffee Break
14:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two
15:30 Chair's Summary and Closing Comments
15:40 Networking Reception
16:30 Close


Who Should Attend?

  • Probation officers
  • Police authorities
  • Forensic Physicians
  • Force Medical Examiner
  • Coroners
  • Police Community Support Officers
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams
  • Community Engagement Officers
  • Community Relations Advisers
  • Post Incident Managers (PIMs)
  • Investigating Officers
  • Custody Officers/Teams
  • Professional Standards Teams
  • Police Custody Teams
  • Criminal Justice Teams
  • Police Federation Lawyers
  • Occupational Health and Medical Experts
  • Independent Custody Visitors
  • Police Operational Training Teams
  • Local Criminal Justice Boards
  • Prisoner Escort and Custody Services (PECS)
  • Criminal Justice Liaison Services
  • Criminal Justice Mental Health Liaison Services
  • Offender Healthcare Teams
  • Ambulance services
  • Mental Health Trusts
  • Forensic Mental Health Services
  • Accident and Emergency Teams
  • Acute Trusts (psychologists etc)
  • Care Trusts (Mental Health Services)
  • Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs)
  • Crisis Resolution Teams (CRTs)
  • Assertive Outreach Teams (AOTs)
  • Early Intervention Psychosis Teams (EIPT)
  • Drug and Alcohol Teams (DAATs)
  • Drug Intervention Programmes (DIPs)
  • Health Commissioners
  • Local Health Board
  • Social Workers
  • Disability Practitioners
  • Care Managers
  • Residential Care Services
  • Community Care Workers
  • Regulatory Bodies
  • Local Authority Officers and Councillors
  • Central Government and Agencies


For more information please visit the Public Policy exchange website.


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