Standards need to improve in court cells

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Most detainees in court cells in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are treated with care but more needs to be done to drive up standards, according to a new report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Nick Hardwick inspected court custody facilities and found that provision for the safety of detainees, staff and visitors was poor, staffing levels were not sufficient in every court to deal with unruly detainees and, in some cases, the care of vulnerable detainees was inadequate.

He also found that other than a cell-sharing risk assessment, there was no formal risk assessment process in place, the use of handcuffs and routine searching was excessive and staff had received no training in basic safeguarding, child protection procedures or caring for young people.

He also found staff made little effort to inform detainees of their rights and entitlements and he reported there were no blankets or warm clothing despite the cells at some courts being cold and detainees spending up to several hours in them.

But Mr Hardwick did find that court custody staff ensured they had the necessary authority to detain a person and there were no long delays in releasing people who had been bailed or acquitted.

He also concluded that interactions between staff and detainees were mostly professional and courteous and that other than handcuffing, the use of force was rare, but well documented and monitored.

The inspection also found the cleanliness at most courts was good, but some cells needed a deep clean.

He said: “Our concerns about safety, staffing levels and the inadequate provision for some of the most vulnerable detainees overshadowed the finding that in many respects, most detainees were treated with care.”