Police Federation

Police chief commends officers as custody deaths at zero

Tue, 10 Sep 2019

Custody officers and staff have been praised for their professionalism and the level of care provided to detainees as latest figures revealed nobody died in a custody suite last year.

Last week the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) published its latest statistics for England and Wales 2018/19 which cover a range of incidents where there have been fatalities after the police have had contact with a person prior to their death. 

In response to these findings, Assistant Chief Constable Nev Kemp, National Police Chiefs’ Council custody lead at the Police Federation’s National Custody Seminar at Hinckley, Leicestershire, said: “Last year, none of the 698,737 people brought into custody in England and Wales died as a result of harming themselves.

“Given that when detainees are brought into custody they are at their lowest and feeling vulnerable – that is a very impressive testament to the care and professionalism of officers and staff.”

ACC Kemp also highlighted Operation Foreland, carried out at the end of May as more than 3,000 Hell’s Angels descended upon Surrey and Sussex for their 50th year celebrations, as a prime example of the best of British policing.

For this unprecedented event, Europol and police officers from 12 countries were in attendance for the operation along with more than half of forces in England and Wales providing mutual aid.

Despite between 70% and 80% of the Hells Angels and associated groups having criminal convictions for violence, including convictions for murder and bomb making, officers arrested 53 members over a two-day period and not a single officer or member of the public was hurt.

According to ACC Kemp, none of them resisted arrest – attributing it to officers treating people fairly and with dignity no matter what they have done.

The lead Europol officer, with decades of experience, has since commended the operation for being “the best he has ever seen” and will pave the way for future operations in Eastern Europe, ACC Kemp added.

ACC Kemp said: “We have a custody service that is transparent, safe and professional it’s something we should all be really proud of.”

“I want to particularly thank those who work day in, day out in custody centres in a pivotal role in the criminal justice process and dealt with around 700,000 detainees last year, some are the most challenging and vulnerable people in society.”

He also revealed the NPCC is currently discussing on how to introduce national custody training.

“Whether there will be a comprehensive package or a national training standard in only high risk areas is unclear but chief constables will be considering it in the next few weeks and we – the College of Policing and the NPCC – are pushing for an improvement to the status quo, which is a wide variety of courses and training methods which are variable in quality and often out-dated,” he said.

The College and PSFEW will also be reviewing strip and intimate searching guidance which according to ACC Kemp is “insufficient”, “inconsistent” and is currently based on PACE which can be “ambiguous in places”.

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