Surrey Police were criticised by watchdog bodies for failures over custody arrangements for detainees which were in breach of the law. Detainees had not always been given a written copy of their rights and there were instances where reviews of detention as required under the PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) arrangements did not take place, according to a joint inspection by HM’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM’s Inspectorate of Prisons.
‘This is a cause of concern,’ the inspectorate noted. ‘There is little governance and oversight of the use of force and restraint in custody suites. Some of the information to allow scrutiny is inaccurate and there is little quality assurance of incidents. This makes it difficult for Surrey Police to show that when force is used, it is proportionate and justified.’ However, after reviewing incidents involving 20 detainees, the report noted that cases were ‘managed well’.
Support from mental health professionals to help frontline officers deal with people with mental ill health ‘isn’t good enough’, the inspectors found. As a consequence, officers were detaining people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 because they could not access help in finding alternative solutions.
Inspectors also reported that deficient ‘clinical governance’ led to infringements of ‘the privacy and dignity’ of detainees receiving healthcare. ‘Many patient assessments and interactions’ took place ‘with the door open and custody staff close by’ and there were ‘no screens or curtains in medical rooms’ to protect patient dignity during the taking of intimate samples.