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Custody today: an IPCC perspective Nicholas Long Commissioner Independent Police Complaints Commission.

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Presentation on theme: "Custody today: an IPCC perspective Nicholas Long Commissioner Independent Police Complaints Commission."— Presentation transcript:

1 Custody today: an IPCC perspective Nicholas Long Commissioner Independent Police Complaints Commission

2 Background: Nicholas Long IPCC Commissioner, formerly custody lead, but now leading on Public Order and International work Previously a custody visitor including Chair of Lambeth lay visitor panel Provided evidence to Scarman inquiry

3 Background: Deaths in custody Deaths in custody are relatively few in number but controversial Not all deaths in custody occur in a police cell There have been a series of high profile cases IPCC study seeks to identify learning and inform policy and practice

4 Number of deaths in police custody

5 Overview of study The study reviewed the following areas:  Deaths involving police restraint  Risk assessment, care of detainees and medical provision  Deaths involving mental health and suicide  Deaths involving alcohol and/or drugs Profile of deaths  Men made up the vast majority (90% men, 10% women)  Age of the deceased was between 14-77 (48% were 25-44 years old)  Ethnicity breakdown (76% White, 6% Black, 5% Asian, 2% Mixed race, 1% Chinese)

6 Deaths involving police restraint: recommendations Numbers are small but such cases are especially sensitive referring to contributing conditions such as:  Positional asphyxia  Excited delirium  Acute behavioural disturbance R.Guidance on restraint techniques, appropriateness and when such techniques should and should not be used. R.Where requests for police assistance in restraint are required, information to be sought on any clinical conditions of the detainee to judge whether and how restraint can be safely exercised. R.Risk assessment to include the sharing of information between custody staff and arresting officers on whether any restraint techniques were used.

7 Risk assessment, care of detainees and medical provision: recommendations R.Awareness of the risk of head injuries being masked by intoxication. R.Custody staff ensuring that information on the circumstances and needs of detainees is shared as part of handover at the end of shifts. R.CCTV to be available in at least one cell and used when a detainee is identified as being at risk. R.Custody staff to be clear about their roles and responsibilities so that checks and information on the custody record is recorded accurately. R.Adopting procedures to check adherence to PACE. R.Healthcare professionals to ensure directions to custody staff on frequency of checks are recorded in custody records.

8 Deaths involving mental health and suicide: recommendations The study reiterated two previous recommendations made by the IPCC in its research on the use of police custody as a place of safety under s.136 of the Mental Health Act: R.The need for NHS Commissioners to develop alternate places of safety. R.Police forces to ensure sufficient numbers of forensic physicians (or other healthcare professionals) are approved under s.12 MHA to assess detainees taken into police custody.

9 Deaths involving alcohol and/or drugs The analysis highlighted the following concerns:  Non completion of risk assessment processes due to intoxication;  PACE requirements for checking and rousing individuals who were intoxicated or suspected of having consumed drugs not always following the requirement for half-hourly checks;  Some detainees were not roused when it had been decided they should be;  Rousing described as going into the cell with no attempt to wake or speak to the detainee;  Ability to recognise injuries or conditions which produce symptoms similar to those of intoxication or where intoxication may mask the severity of the injury, for example, head injuries.

10 Deaths involving alcohol and/or drugs: recommendations Study recommendation R.Police forces and healthcare providers to adopt the ACPO Safer Detention Guidelines and develop protocols on the care of drunken detainees. Due to the strong link between alcohol and deaths in custody the Home Office and Department of Health to pilot alternative facilities for intoxicated people with access to medical provision, with a view to developing a national scheme.

11 How can Independent custody visitors help?  IPCC study recommends that to ensure CCTV is available, Independent custody visitors should check that CCTV is operational when carrying out their custody visits.  The existence of Independent custody visitors is highlighted as one of a number of factors that may have influenced the fall in the number of deaths in recent years.  Many of the concluding recommendations from the study involve the monitoring and checking of detainees during their time in custody, which Independent custody visitors are well placed to check themselves.

12 Conclusion The IPCC has not yet published the report although the recommendations have been shared with key individuals and organisations. The IPCC is due to publish its full report in December 2010. The report, once published, will be available on the IPCC website Any questions?

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