Joint inspection report on police custody arrangements published

30/09/2020
CJI's Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin has today published the findings of a joint inspection of police custody arrangements carried out by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland and colleagues from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).
 
Inspectors found improvements had been made in the governance, standards and delivery of police custody arrangements in Northern Ireland since the last inspection was published in 2016.
 
"Before the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Inspectors carried out fieldwork at the eight police custody suites operating in Northern Ireland at that time, to see the conditions in which adults and children were held in and the care and treatment they experienced, when detained in police custody,” said Ms Durkin.
 
“The Inspection Team also sought the views of people who had recently been in police custody and reviewed a sample of 177 police custody records to inform our judgments.
 
“We saw skilled police officers, police and health care staff dealing with numerous detainees, all who had individual needs, including mental health, alcohol and substance misuse and behaviour issues, to ensure they were held safely and securely,” she said.
 
Ms Durkin welcomed the improvements in health care delivered as a result of the nurse-led health care pilot in Musgrave custody suite in Belfast and recommended this partnership approach involving the police and Health and Social Care Trusts, be implemented across Northern Ireland.
 
The inspection also identified that ‘Looked After’ or care experienced children were more likely to be brought to police custody than young people living with their parents or guardians and were more likely to be held in police custody for longer periods of time.
 
“Over 26,000 men, women and children experienced police custody in 2018-19. A police cell is a daunting place for anyone, never mind a child in the care system. The longstanding issues of why these children are more likely to be in police custody, are held longer than their peers and their rights to bail need to be urgently addressed. 
 
“We have recommended the Department of Justice prioritise the legislative reform that is needed,” she said.
 
This report includes six strategic and seven operational recommendations to help secure further improvements and the better delivery of police custody arrangements in Northern Ireland in the future.