South Yorkshire Police sometimes breaching custody rules

A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Prisons stated the force was not “consistently” meeting the requirements of codes of practice for detention.

About 100 custody cells in Doncaster, Barnsley, and Sheffield were inspected and found to have “several causes of concern and areas” needing improvement.

Both the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 were breached.  In one case a child left custody after eight hours without having had a review of detention.  In addition, girls were not always in the care of a woman as is legally required.  The report also said that the use of strip-search “was not always justified” by South Yorkshire Police’s custody staff, and “poor attention” was paid to maintaining detainees’ dignity during strip-searches.

South Yorkshire Police has been told to take “immediate action” on these breaches.

The unannounced inspection in June also found that female detainees were regularly not supported; although the force was praised for offering “a good range of menstrual care products”.

The force said the safety of “everyone in custody is paramount” and that it would be “learning from every case in order to develop staff and improve our service”.

Dr Alan Billings, the Police and Crime Commissioner admitted that the report

makes for uncomfortable reading

adding that he

was concerned by some of the inspectors’ comments about the treatment of children, some aspects of which were serious breaches of the rules.

All of these will feature in the weekly ‘holding to account’ conversations I have with the Chief Constable.

I know that every area of policing has been under pressure in recent years and there is a need for more officers.  But this is why I increased the precept this year to start to put back the numbers that had been lost during the nine years of austerity. The custody suites must have their fair share of resources and I know this is already being addressed by district commanders and senior officers.

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Mary Vickers moved to North East Lincolnshire in 2010, from the Wiltshire/Hampshire border, to become Urban and Industrial Chaplain NELincs. Made redundant in 2017, she's maintained many of her connections within the business, faith, and other local communities. She's also decided to stay here rather than return to either the south or her husband's native Yorkshire, so that she can continue to enjoy and help promote the positives of NELincs.