Vera Baird

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Commissioner’s Response – HMIC and HMIP Inspection of Police Custody suites in Northumbria.

6th August 2014

I have read with interest the recent unannounced inspection of custody suites in Northumbria by HM inspectorate of Prisons and HM inspectorate of Constabulary.

I was pleased to note the positive comments in particular that individual detainee and officer interaction was respectful and sensitive and examples of good multi agency working for detainees with a history of substance misuse, both adults and young people.

I appreciate that there are a considerable number of recommendations made by the inspectorate and that there were also recommendations from a previous inspection that have not been implemented.  In view of this I have asked the Chief Constables to prepare an action plan to meet the recommendations in the report and I will monitor progress of this action plan through my attendance at the joint Strategic Management Board.

Where, as PCC, I can work strategically to support delivery of the recommendations, such as talking to partners about the availability of local authority accommodation for children and young people who have been refused bail at police stations I will do so.

As you mention there were IPCC investigations going on at the time of the visit and a further referral made.  I wish to reassure HMIC that any recommendations from these investigations will be fully implemented by Northumbria Police.

I have an Independent Custody Visiting Scheme with many highly committed volunteers who work themselves, also through unannounced visits to ensure that custody provision and treatment of detainees are of a high standard in Northumbria.  I am strengthening the scheme and the Custody visitors will now have a revised checklist for their visits based upon the key concerns highlighted in the report.