August 3, 2022 11.10 am

Force against Lincolnshire Police detainees ‘not always justified’

A report identified two major areas of concern

By Local Democracy Reporter

Prisoners in Lincolnshire Police custody sometimes face unjustified force and don’t always have their dignity maintained, an inspection has found.

An independent body has raised concerns about two areas of the force’s performance.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services looked at the custody suites in Lincoln, Boston, Grantham and Skegness.

It says progress had been made in many areas since their last inspection in 2015, but there were still major areas that required improvement.

Lincolnshire Police acknowledged the shortcomings and said they were working to provide the best possible service.

One area of concern was that the force didn’t have proper oversight of the use of force. Incidents weren’t always managed well and details weren’t always recorded.

The report recommends: “The force should scrutinise the use of force in custody to show that its use is necessary, justified and proportionate. This scrutiny should be based on accurate information and robust quality assurance, including viewing CCTV footage of incidents.”

Lincolnshire detainees were generally treated respectfully, the report found | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

There were also concerns that staff were so risk-averse that it affected detainees’ wellbeing.

Detainees were too often put in anti-rip clothing (garments which can’t be torn and used to self-harm) without justification, with shoes and clothing with cords also removed unnecessarily.

Their clothing was sometimes removed by force, and their dignity wasn’t always maintained.

There was also criticism for the fact that detainees’ risks weren’t always shared with staff during handovers.

The report recommends that the removal of clothing should only be done following a risk assessment and that anti-rip clothing should be a “last resort”.

15 other less serious areas for improvements were also identified, including following its own guidance, recording important decisions, and always providing appropriate facilities for detainees who are female, disabled or require interpreters.

Since the previous report, 32 of the 43 recommendations had been fully or partly achieved.

The HMICFRS said improvements had been made to the force’s custody performance since its last review

Three of the force’s custody facilities were deemed to be “old and don’t always meet detainees’ needs well enough”, but a culture of respectful treatment helped to mitigate this.

The HMIC said custody record-keeping was “better than we usually see”, although important information was still sometimes missing.

In general, there is good understanding of how to meet detainee’s needs.

The force also worked effectively to divert children and vulnerable adults away from custody and the criminal justice system. However, support when dealing with people with mental health issues “isn’t always good enough”.

A spokeperson for Lincolnshire Police: “We value the feedback from HMICFRS and note that they found a strong culture of treating detainees well and with respect. The report acknowledges that we have fully or partially implemented 32 of the recommendations from the last report, in 2015, and we will continue to strive to deliver the best service possible.

“We note both causes for concern raised in the report, and will take recommendations into account while considering how we can feed them into our existing scrutiny arrangements. The report mentions that we are working hard to improve recording of the use of force in custody suites, and we have robust plans in place to make sure this is built upon.

“While accepting that there are areas for improvement, we remain confident in our provision of custody services.”