Lancashire Police Custody Report by HMIC 2016

Lancashire Police Custody suites were subject to ‘unannounced visits‘ by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Thanks to ‘C‘ for bringing this to our attention.

Read the damning report here (click to open in a new window)

Here are some worrying quotes from the report…


We last inspected Lancashire in 2011, when we reported positively on many aspects of the way custody suites were run, and we made a few recommendations to help the force address the concerns we identified. At this inspection we were very disappointed to discover that only 20% of these previous recommendations had been fully achieved, and most issues that we had highlighted had either drifted or got worse

Highlighted issues got worse in Lancashire Police Custody suites!


We had three particular areas of concern. The first was the way that force was used in the custody suites. There was no policy or proper oversight about the way force was carried out, and there were no data about the extent of its use, making it impossible to determine whether the work practice was sound or properly accountable. In a small number of the random sample of cases we viewed involving force, we identified concerns about the way force was used. In almost half of the other cases viewed, we found general concerns about the way detainees appeared to have been treated. These matters were referred back to the force for investigation.

Worried the way force was used in Lancashire Police Custody suites!


Our second major concern related to respectful treatment. Despite a previous recommendation, CCTV coverage in cells was still not pixellated and, as a consequence, anyone standing in the control area had a clear view of detainees using the toilet. In one case we found a situation where a female detainee had her clothing removed in the presence of male staff, and in another, an individual had been left naked in a cell which could be seen on CCTV(me, click here)

Individual left naked in full view of CCTV in Lancashire Police Custody suites!


The other principal concern was about accountable practice and poor record keeping. Insufficient data were gathered and only limited monitoring was carried out. The force, therefore, was not able to identify patterns and trends and this made it difficult to ‘learn lessons’ or carry out necessary improvements. The standard of recording was unusually poor in most areas. The force was badly served by software that made it difficult to avoid using formulaic responses in, for example, assessments, but as well as this, most of the recording we saw lacked sufficient detail. A new IT system was, however, being introduced during our inspection, and it was anticipated that this would lead to considerable improvements.

Poor record keeping & lacking detail in the record keeping in Lancashire Police Custody Suites..!

Despite a move towards centralising custody services, the anticipated benefit of greater consistency in work practice across the force area had not yet emerged. At a strategic level, there had been some useful collaborative work by senior staff with partner agencies. However, in most cases there was a considerable gap between theory and practice in the application of policies within the force, notably with regard to safeguarding.


Despite the problems we identified, custody staff mostly behaved in a courteous and professional manner towards detainees. The physical environment in the custody suites was largely unchanged, and the older facilities remained inadequate.

‘Mostly behaved courteous towards detainees’ (i.e. not all) in Lancashire Police Custody Suites..!


The effective application of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) was not always consistent, and children still remained in custody for too long. Although we were informed that there had been improvements in transferring children from police custody to suitable alternative accommodation, we were unable to assess this because no records were available.

PACE not always consistent in Lancashire Police custody suites.


Overall, this was a disappointing inspection. The force had failed to build on the progress we identified previously. With generally good treatment of detainees and mostly reasonable conditions, the fundamental building blocks remained intact. However, as we have indicated throughout this report, there was a clear need for the force to develop and improve the infrastructure supporting custody, so that outcomes for all detainees were always good enough. We noted that of the 25 recommendations made in our previous report after our inspection of April 2011, five recommendations had been achieved, seven had been partially achieved and 13 had not been achieved.


2.15 Governance of the use of force was inadequate, with no preventive aspect, very limited accountability and few opportunities for learning lessons. The force was unable to identify or provide us with cases where force had been used in custody. Data on the use of force generally was inadequate, and it was not monitored at strategic or operational level. Deficiencies with data on the use of force in custody were a significant longstanding weakness, which the force had failed to address.

Limited accountability in Lancashire Police Custody Suites…!

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