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Inspecting ranks raise custody concerns in survey

generic images of a police officers uniform, 6-5-2006Three out of four inspectors and chief inspectors have had no training on how to deal with mentally ill people in custody.

The results – revealed from a poll of members of the inspecting ranks – also showed 85% of those surveyed have experienced difficulties in securing support from mental health specialists in the last 12 months, with 63% saying this has happened three or more times.

Paul Ford, from the Inspectors’ Central Committee, Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “People with mental health issues require specialist care and support.  Police involvement often results in people being taken into custody as there is nowhere else to go. They deserve the right care from trained professionals.

“The survey results substantiate our call to address this issue as a matter of urgency.  Officers are continuing to do all that they can.  With less of them to do so, the added demand is often detracting them from other core functions.

“85% of respondents to the survey have experienced difficulties in securing support from mental health specialists to deal with an ill person in custody in the last 12 months.  This is alarming and for all involved, something has to be done as a matter of urgency.”

Other results from the survey of 746 respondents showed that 58% of manage 2 or more custody suites and 74% of respondents manage more than 20 cells. One in two said they travel more than 15 miles between custody facilities.

Some 69% on inspectors and chief inspectors said there has been an increase in the level of risk that is managed within custody facilities in the last three years.

Mr Ford added: “We surveyed the Inspecting ranks on custody matters to get a clear indication of what the main issues are currently.  It is essential that we get this feedback from the country, in the interest of the public and for officers out there doing the job.

“The results allow us to focus on key areas where improvement is needed.  Importantly it shows that forces need to invest in custody and in particular, Inspector numbers.  Inspectors are clearly being spread too thin.”

Date posted: December 19, 2013

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