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‘A considerable disappointment’ - Newham police custody provision blasted by government report

A government report described the quality of police custody in Newham as among the worst in London A government report described the quality of police custody in Newham as among the worst in London

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
8:28 AM

Police custody care in Newham is “a considerable disappointment” and among the worst in London, according to a recently-published government report.

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Inspectors visited a suite of 15 cells at Forest Gate police station last December as part of a London-wide inspection of the Met Police’s custody provision.

Published jointly by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Thomas P Winsor and Martin Lomas, HM Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, the pair wrote: “Our findings were a considerable disappointment.

“We found some of the worst conditions that we have seen anywhere in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

“There was a lack of strategic oversight and detainees were provided with poor care or in some cases were neglected.”

Inspectors found the suite “chaotic” while the cells were “dirty and not always checked everyday”, also lacked basic items such as replacement clothing and interview tapes.

Detainees often had to wait more than two hours to be seen by a forensic medical examiner and there was no specific liaison to assist those with mental health issues.

Mr Lomas and Dru Sharpling, Inspector of Constabulary, have urged the borough to implement measures swiftly, in light off the report.

They said: “Given the poor outcomes for detainees we would urge both the borough and the MPS territorial policing criminal justice directorate to take urgent action to improve custody facilities at Newham.”

However, there were some positives to take as inspectors were pleased to find substance misuse services were reasonable and custody was not used as a place of safety under the Mental Health Act.

A spokesperson for the MPS said: “Following the HMIC/P Inspection of Newham custody suite in December 2013, an immediate improvement plan was put into place and specialist teams within the MPS have assisted the borough leadership team to address the areas of concern and recommendations made.

“A further review of custody procedures in Newham was completed by the Met Detention Inspection and Review Team in March 2014 which concluded that significant improvements have been made in relation to the issues identified in the HMIC/P report.

“Newham borough is confident that the improved level of service will be maintained.”

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