Detainees in Sussex '˜treated with respect' but safety concerns remain

Most prisoners in Sussex are treated with respect but concerns remain over jail cell safety, an inspection of Sussex Police has found.

The inspection was carried out by Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary (HIMC) and HM Inspectorate of Prisons. Picture: Sussex Police
The inspection was carried out by Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary (HIMC) and HM Inspectorate of Prisons. Picture: Sussex Police

The inspection was part of a national programme examining conditions for detainees in police custody to prevent ill-treatment.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HIMC) latest report with HM Inspectorate of Prisons was carried in November 2016. The force was last inspected in February 2011.

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The inspection found that the force treated prisoners with respect and consideration and assessed those with vulnerabilities well. The force was praised for its strong focus on children who were in custody and that it was good at avoiding keeping those under 17 in overnight.

However inspectors criticised Sussex Police’s inaction over eliminating ligature points in cells. These ‘placed detainees and the force at significant risk’, a HMIC spokesperson said.

“Soon after inspectors reported present concerns the force quickly provided a report on how they intended to address the outstanding problems,” the spokesperson added.

Sussex Police was also praised in the report its efforts to keep children out of jail cells, especially overnight.

Inspectors recognised the work the force had done to work with partner agencies to avoid detaining those under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

However while the force has made strides forward, people in a mental health crisis were still being brought to custody as a place of safety, the report said.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Phelps said: “Overall this is a positive inspection as it recognises we take the care and treatment of detainees very seriously. We acknowledge the recommendations given to us and already have in place plans to improve these areas.

“The number of people detained in custody under section 136 is monitored monthly and before we received the HMIC report, we had begun to address the issue.

“We know there are not always enough beds for those in a mental health crisis, however we are always focused on keeping them safe, although a cell is never the ideal option.

“We always welcome these inspections so we can improve the care for those detained within our custody.”

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