Following inspections of court custody facilities across the region, concerns have been raised about a lack of staff training in supporting detainees with mental health issues, unacceptable delays and insufficient provision for people with mobility issues.
Overall, detainees were treated well
A report published this week by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, following inspections at courts in Hampshire, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight, revealed that overall, detainees were treated well and held in reasonable conditions.
Concerns were raised
However, several concerns were raised — including that detainees, some children, were routinely handcuffed when there was no need for them to be restrained, and that searches were ‘often excessive.’
Sometimes, inspectors found men, women and even children were transported to and from court in the same van.
Inspectors also found detainees were observed either once, twice or six times an hour, even when it was unnecessary — which took staff away from other duties.
Lack of mobility provision
One problem found at all custody suites, apart from those at Salisbury Law Courts, was a lack of provision for people with mobility issues.
Furthermore, most staff said they had not received training in significant areas, such as equality and diversity issues, understanding children’s needs and supporting detainees with mental health or substance misuse problems.
Custody staff compassionate and caring
Mr Clarke said:
“For many, the custodial environment can be unfamiliar and stressful, but custody staff engaged with detainees in a compassionate and caring way and were skilled at allaying fears and defusing tension and anxieties.
“There was a clear strategic focus on promoting safe and decent escort, custody and court services.
“While there was a commitment to prioritising the cases of those detained in court custody, it was not always possible to do so, and delays in solicitors attending court custody were more acute than we have seen elsewhere.”
“This was a good inspection with many positive features. The three key agencies worked well together and were properly focused on ensuring safe and decent detention.
“We have made a number of recommendations and are confident that they will be used to deliver ongoing improvements.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed