Police custody provision in Norfolk and Suffolk was exemplary, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection.
The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody. It looked at the six custody suites operated jointly by Norfolk and Suffolk Police. This initiative, in which all the previous suites had been decommissioned and six new police investigation centres (PICs) built, had been completed a few months previously and had been strikingly successful. The PICs were located in Bury St Edmunds and Martlesham in Suffolk, and Wymondham, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Aylsham in Norfolk.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- the strategic framework was robust and there was good communication and collaboration between the different PICs;
- the design and facilities management arrangements were excellent, and staff and detainees benefited from the clean, spacious environment;
- strong and consistent management, with a sustained attention to detail, to quality assurance, to effective handovers and to individual staff roles ensured a remarkable degree of consistency in custody processes;
- staff felt a real pride and ownership in the system, were calm and in control of their suites and were proactive in good risk assessment and management;
- provision for minority groups was appropriate and detention was not overused; and
- health care provision was of a good standard with a tightly drawn contract, though there were some delays in attendance and some issues in infection control.
Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:
'Overall, we recognise that the Norfolk and Suffolk joint custody programme now sets a benchmark for the quality both of custody provision and of thoroughly planned and executed joint working. This report provides a small number of recommendations to assist the forces and the Police Authorities to improve provision further. We expect our findings to be considered in the wider context of priorities and resourcing, and for an action plan to be provided in due course.'
Read a copy of the full report.