Custody centres have set a new ‘benchmark’

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CUSTODY centres in Suffolk and Norfolk have set the benchmark for others to follow, a report by the chiefs of police and prisons has found.

Unannounced inspections were held at the six Police Investigation Centres (PIC) – including the centre in Rougham Road, Bury St Edmunds – all of which are run jointly by Suffolk and Norfolk police.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said custody provision and joint working between the two forces was exemplary.

“Overall, we recognise that the Norfolk and Suffolk joint custody programme now sets a benchmark for the quality both of custody provision and of thoroughly planned and executed joint working,” they said.

“This report provides a small number of recommendations to assist the forces and police authorities to improve provision further. We expect our findings to be considered in the wider context of priorities and resourcing, and for an action plan to be provided in due course.”

The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody.

Among the areas highlighted for praise was the bright spacious design of the custody centres, strong management, while staff managed risks well, treated those in custody with respect and made appropriate provision for minority groups.

“Detainees told us that staff had treated them well throughout their time in custody suite,” said the inspection report.

This included the treatment of immigratioin detainees at Bury, who were booked in at a secondary booking-in desk that offered greater privacy.

Joanna Spicer, Chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said: “The collaboration between Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies has recently been held up as innovative in parliament, so to receive further praise for joint working is more pleasing still.

“By working together we can maximise savings whilst continuing to provide a quality service in two of the safest counties in which to live and work.”