#001/2011 – Police custody in North Wales – good overall

Police custody facilities in North Wales were good overall, with the exception of those at Wrexham, said Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, and Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of a joint inspection into custody suites in North Wales.

The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and covered six custody suites at Mold, St Asaph, Holyhead, Dolgellau, Caernarfon and Wrexham.

The inspection found that North Wales Police had a good strategic grip on custody. The force had recently conducted its own comprehensive review of its use of custody which had already led to improvements and identified areas which needed to be addressed, such as staffing levels. There were some areas of excellent practice.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there were positive and appropriate interactions between staff and detainees;
  • the force had invested in the estate, which was generally in good condition with the exception of Wrexham;
  • there was good work with more vulnerable detainees, such as children, those with mental health problems and drug users;
  • there was excellent nursing provision and good clinical care; and
  • DNA and forensic matters were handled well.

However, there were some concerns:

  • the custody suite at Wrexham was in poor condition with limited in-cell sanitation and taped over call bells;
  • there were some delays in response times for forensic medical examiners;
  • at times, custody staff were too risk-averse; and
  • the force was obliged to act as a place of safety for those with mental health problems on too many occasions and for too long, and needed to strengthen relationships with the local health board and health care providers.

The Chief Inspectors said:

“Overall, North Wales Police provided good custody facilities. The financial climate means it will be a challenge to maintain these standards but the strategic approach the force has taken means it is well placed to meet this challenge. Conditions in Wrexham were the exception – and required urgent attention.”


Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 18 January 2011 at www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the effectiveness of police forces and authorities to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the British Transport Police and HMRC.
  4. This joint inspection was carried out from 20-24 September 2010.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMIP Press Office) on 0207 035 2123 or 07880 787452 from 0915 to 1430 Monday to Friday or Sharon Kalina (HMIC Press Office) on 020 7802 1824 if you would like more information or to request an interview.