'Limited improvement' made at West Midlands Police custody services, says report - The Solihull Observer

'Limited improvement' made at West Midlands Police custody services, says report

Solihull Editorial 16th Aug, 2023   0

WEST MIDLANDS Police has shown ‘limited improvement’ in its custody services and there are ‘still several areas of concern’, according to a report.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors said they found officers could not show force or restraint used was necessary, justified or proportionate.

They also noted the leadership of custody isn’t making sure safe and respectful custody services are consistently provided.

West Midlands Police has custody suites in Wolverhampton, Oldbury, Perry Barr, Coventry, Stechford and Bloxwich.

However inspectors noted since the last inspection in 2017 governance structures were better, and inspectors found that senior leaders were actively involved in seeking to improve custody provision.

It also highlighted that there was some effective collaboration with other agencies to support children and vulnerable people to keep them away from the criminal justice system and healthcare for detainees was good.

His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “Frontline officers have a good understanding of vulnerability and consider this when deciding whether an arrest is appropriate, and custody staff treat detainees with respect and do their best to meet individual needs.

“However, progress has been limited and there are still several areas of concern, including West Midlands Police’s oversight of the use of force in custody and the lack of consistency in the custody services it provides.”

HMICFRS said it will be working closely with West Midlands Police and monitoring its progress against the new recommendations.

West Midlands Police’s deputy Chief Constable Scott Green said: “We are grateful to the inspectors for highlighting other areas for improvement and we have already made progress in delivering on these to ensure our custody services are providing the quality of service required. However we know there is more to do within the challenging fiscal environment in which we are operating.

“The safety of all those within our custody facilities is and always will be our priority and we are focused on meeting the needs of detainees effectively, especially children and vulnerable adults.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “I take the contents of this report extremely seriously and have, in particular, noted the four causes for concern relating to leadership, detainee risk, meeting legal requirements and guidance and use of force.

“It is essential that West Midlands Police has custody facilities that provide a secure and safe environment, for people properly detained by the police. That is necessary, to ensure trust and confidence in our policing service and the wider criminal justice system.

“I will be holding the Chief Constable to account, to ensure that immediate action is taken to remedy these causes for concern, as a matter of urgency.”


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