#039/2010 – Police Custody in South Yorkshire – generally positive

Police custody in South Yorkshire was a generally positive picture, though there were some improvements needed, 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 Yorkshire Police.

The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and covered seven custody suites in Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley, and in Sheffield at Attercliffe, Ecclesfield, Moss Way, and Bridge Street.

Overall, the inspection found that detention was well-managed and there were some areas of excellent practice. However there were also areas for improvement. Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • staff were well trained, with regular refresher training;
  • adherence to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) was good;
  • observed relationships between staff and detainees was good, and risk assessments were detailed;
  • substance abuse and mental health diversion schemes were good; and
  • arrangements for managing DNA and forensics were generally good.

However, there were some concerns:

  • some suites were particularly old and poorly maintained, cells were covered in graffiti, cleanliness was poor and there were ligature points identified in all the suites;
  • the use of force in custody was not subject to clear governance or oversight and information was not collated to allow patterns to be monitored and practice to be improved;
  • the arrangements for monitoring the health care contract needed to be tightened, and the management of medications required improvement; and
  • although the needs of many groups were well met, there were limited facilities for detainees with disabilities.

Inspectors were also concerned that there were sometimes delays in immigration detainees being dealt with by the UK Border Agency.

The Chief Inspector and Deputy Chief Inspector said:

“In general, this is a positive report. It does, however, raise some systemic issues about the poor physical conditions in most suites and the management of medications. We hope that our recommendations will be helpful to the South Yorkshire Police and the police authority in continuing to improve custodial conditions and treatment.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 11 November 2010 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 5-9 July 2010.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMIP Press Office) on 0207 035 2123 or 07880 787452 from 0915 to 1430 Monday to Friday or Robert Stansfield (HMIC Press Office) on 020 7802 1824 if you would like more information or to request an interview.