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West Midlands Police Federation

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Design guide launched for police custody suites

24 September 2019

A Police Custody Design Guide is being created so that forces can build and refurbish custody suites nationwide to a common standard.

Assistant Chief Constable Nev Kemp, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on custody, announced the launch of the guide when he addressed the two-day Police Federation’s National Custody Seminar held in Hinckley last week.

It should now be used as the reference document for any custody estate work and will also be of interest to construction companies, architects and suppliers who provide custodial design support or custodial products.

While at the seminar, Mr Kemp also took part in a question and answer session, remarking afterwards: “We have probably the most professional workforce we have ever had.”

To back this up, he said that of the 700,000 people in police custody last year, none had died as a result of harming themselves.

“Given that when detainees are brought into custody they are at their lowest and feeling vulnerable – that is a very impressive testament to the care and professionalism of officers and staff,” he told delegates.

However, he acknowledged that custody officers are sometimes under pressure to compromise safety by keeping suites open at capacity, adding: “It is important that custody sergeants articulate why they feel safety might be compromised, and it is important that senior leaders listen.”

As well as hearing from the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody, the seminar received a presentation on the work of the Independent Custody Visitors’ Association (ICVA). They speak to around 29,000 detainees a year and have been taking part in a pilot scheme at Derbyshire Constabulary to drive forward improvements.

DIVERT, an outreach programme for young adults which aims to steer them away from a life of crime and into employment, was explained by Inspector Jack Rowlands of the Metropolitan Police while Gwent Police invited delegates to try out its pioneering virtual reality cave which is used as an interactive training programme for custody officers.

An awards ceremony was held at the conclusion of the first day, to recognise exceptional contributions to the world of custody.

On Day 2 delegates heard from Chris Bath about the importance of vulnerable detainees receiving access to an Appropriate Adult (AA). The dangers of concealed drugs and Acute Behavioural Disturbance (ABD) were explained by medical experts Dr Meng Aw-Yong and Dr Johann Grundlingh.

Ché Donald, the Federation’s national vice-chair, also took to the stage to share the findings of the recent demand, capacity and welfare survey and Cambridge University’s research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He called for ring-fenced funding for the Police Treatment Centres and the enhancement of the Welfare Support Programme to deliver counselling to Federation members in the future.

 

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