#031/2010 – Police custody in Greenwich – generally positive

Police custody in Greenwich was generally positive, but there were some issues about health services and management oversight could be developed further, said Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, and Nigel Newcomen, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of a joint inspection into custody suites in the London Borough of Greenwich.

The inspection covered the main custody suite in Plumstead and a part-time facility in Greenwich. Overall, it found some good practice and some areas of excellence.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there were excellent relationships between staff and detainees, and efforts made to address the particular vulnerabilities of detainees;
  • staffing numbers were sufficient, staff were properly trained and felt well supported by managers;
  • there was some good partnership working and particularly effective arrangements in place to divert the mentally ill from custody; and
  • the management of DNA and forensic samples was good.

Inspectors also found that:

  • management oversight, though adequate, could be developed further, with improved management information, particularly monitoring of the use of force;
  • the quality of health care was mixed and provision needed to be more robustly monitored; and
  • although the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) were adhered to, this meant 17 year olds were excluded from automatic entitlement to the appropriate adult service.

The Chief Inspector and Deputy Chief Inspector said:

“Overall, this inspection paints a generally positive picture, although we point to a number of areas where improvements could be made. Accordingly, this report sets out a number of recommendations that we believe will assist the MPS and MPA to improve the quality of custody provision. We expect these recommendations to be considered in the wider context of priorities and resourcing, and for an action plan to be provided in due course. Some recommendations also have national implications and we will progress these directly with the appropriate authorities.”


Notes to editors

  1. Separate inspections of three London Boroughs (Brent, Kensington & Chelsea and Greenwich) were carried out between 26 April and 16 June 2010 as part of an ongoing programme of joint inspections of police custody conditions. The programme is projected to be over a six-year period, during which time all police forces in England and Wales, and all London Boroughs will be inspected at least once each.
  2. All the boroughs subject of these reports are policed by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), but most aspects of the provision of custody services are the responsibility of local command teams and therefore areas of concern will normally need to be tackled at that level. In addition, there are some aspects of policy and strategic management which are handled at the force level and some recommendations in individual reports are therefore directed more widely to the MPS and/or the Metropolitan Police Authority.
  3. The three reports (Greenwich, Kensington & Chelsea and Brent) have been published together to provide an opportunity for both local and force level response, but reducing the overall administrative impact that separate publication might create for the MPS and MPA.
  4. These joint inspections were carried out: Greenwich: 26-29 April 2010; Brent: 18-20 May 2010; and Kensington & Chelsea: 14-16 June 2010.
  5. A copy of each of the full reports can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 15 September 2010 at www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.