North Wales Police needs to ‘further improve’ custody services to ensure safety of detainees

North Wales Police has improved its custody services, but further changes are needed to ensure the safety of detainees, a new report has found.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) said the region’s police force has made improvements in several areas since their last inspection in 2014.

The inspectorates found that frontline officers understand vulnerability and take account of this when deciding to make an arrest.

They also said the police force only takes children into custody after exploring other alternatives.

However, HMICFRS and HMIP said they had four main causes of concern about North Wales Police’s custody services, which were:

  • the force doesn’t always meet legal requirements, including providing detainees with written copies of their rights and entitlements;
  • governance and oversight of the use of force in custody is limited, and North Wales Police can’t show that when force is used it is necessary and proportionate;
  • the quality of recording on custody records is poor, with important information missing from some records; and
  • the force is not managing detainee risks well enough, including different officers carrying out checks, so there is often little continuity to assess changes in a detainee’s behaviour.

The inspectorates have therefore made recommendations for North Wales Police to address these concerns, while also highlighting an additional 17 areas for improvement.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “Anyone detained in custody should be treated fairly and kept safe from harm.

“North Wales Police has made many improvements since our last inspection in 2014.

“Custody staff are respectful, calm and confident when dealing with detainees.

“The force is committed to diverting children and vulnerable adults away from custody.

“It is also good at recording and reporting adverse incidents in detention and learning from them.

“However, we still have concerns in some areas, including explaining rights to detainees, the use of force, and record keeping.

“We will be working closely with North Wales Police and monitoring its progress against our new recommendations.”

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