I welcome this HMICFRS report. My office has an active and effective Independent Custody Visiting Scheme and we take great interest in the welfare of detainees.
I have asked for a response from the Chief Constable, including on the recommendations made. His response is as follows:
Surrey Chief Constable Response
The HMICFRS ‘Report on an unannounced visit to police custody suites in Surrey’ was published in February 2022 following on from a visit by HMICFRS Inspectors 11 – 22 October 2021. The report is generally positive and highlights a number of areas of good practice, including the care and treatment of vulnerable persons and children, the identification and management of risks in detention, and the cleanliness and physical infrastructure of the suites, amongst others. The force was also particularly proud that no ligature points were found in cells. This is the first time this has been the case in this series of national inspections.
Inspectors have made two recommendations, arising from two causes of concern: the first around the force’s compliance with certain aspects of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, specifically around the timeliness of Police Inspectors’ Reviews of Detention. The second cause for concern surrounded the privacy of detainees receiving health care whilst in custody. In addition to these, the HMICFRS also highlighted a further 16 areas for improvement. In considering the recommendations the force will continue to strive to deliver safe detentions in an environment which promotes excellent investigations, recognising the unique needs of people in our care.
The Force is required to create and share an Action Plan with the HMICFRS within 12 weeks, to be reviewed after 12 months. This Action Plan is already in place, with recommendations and areas for improvement monitored through a dedicated working group and strategic leads will oversee their implementation.
The force should take immediate action to make sure that all custody procedures and practices comply with legislation and guidance.
Response: Much of this recommended action has already been addressed; with enhanced training for existing Inspectors and inclusion in Duty Officer Training courses for all new Inspectors underway. New video conferencing equipment has been ordered and various posters and handouts are also in production. The handout will be issued to detainees and provides a clear, comprehensive guide to the custody process, rights and entitlements, what detainees can expect whilst they are in the suite and what support is available to them during their stay and post release. Outcomes are monitored by the Custody Review Officer and presented at the monthly Custody Performance Meeting chaired by the Head of Custody with each suite Inspector in attendance.
The force and the health provider should take immediate action to ensure the privacy and dignity of detainees across all aspects of health care provision.
Response: Notices are being redrafted and various infrastructure upgrades are in train including new ‘curtains’, Niche updates are being scoped to limit access to medical information to only those that must have access to safeguard detainees and all ‘spy holes’ in doors into the medical room have been covered. The Health Care Providers continue to be concerned over the safety of their staff and so anti-hostage doors have been fitted to consultation rooms and a new HCP Risk Assessment is being created to amend working practices e.g. a presumption that doors are closed during medical consultations unless safety grounds exist to keep open.
There were also a number of areas for improvement identified and Surrey Police has developed an action plan to address this which has been shared with my office. My office will monitor the action plan and receive updates on progress to provide me with reassurance that all guidance is being complied with and detainees are being treated with respect and in a safe manner. The OPCC is also involved in the Custody Scrutiny Panel which reviews custody records and provides scrutiny through the ICV Steering Group.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey