#014/2010 – Police custody in Wandsworth – staffing and state of facilities need attention

Police custody in Wandsworth was generally positive, though there were some concerns about staffing and some of the facilities were in a poor state, said Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, publishing the report of a joint inspection into custody suites in the London Borough of Wandsworth.

The inspection covered two main custody suites in Wandsworth and Battersea, and a third, less used, suite in Tooting. Overall, it found some good practice and some areas of excellence. However there were also areas of concern.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there was good partnership working, particularly with local mental health services;
  • relationships between staff and detainees were professional and relaxed, and risk assessments were generally good;
  • there were appropriate relationships with the independent custody visitor scheme and good links to the police authority;
  • the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) were adhered to; and
  • mental health services and provision for those with drug and alcohol problems was good.

However, there were some concerns:

  • some of the facilities were in a poor state and refurbishment plans faced delays;
  • some temporary police constable gaolers supplemented the work of designated and trained detention officers, raising issues of consistency in custodial care;
  • there were no special arrangements to deal with the specific vulnerabilities of women and juveniles; and
  • arrangements for monitoring and governance of the health care contract were weak.

The Chief Inspectors said:

“In general, this is a positive report. It does, however, raise some systemic issues about the staffing of custody suites, the support available for vulnerable detainees, and the oversight of health services. We hope that its recommendations will be helpful to the Metropolitan Police Service and the borough commander in continuing to improve custodial conditions and treatment in Wandsworth.”


Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 22 June 2010 at http://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 15-18 March 2010.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMI Prisons press office) on 020 7035 2123 or 07880 787452 or Robert Stansfield (HMIC Press Office) on 020 7802 1824 if you would like more information or to request an interview.