England

Prisons watchdog finds children 'routinely handcuffed'

Handcuffs Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption "Handcuffs should only be used on detainees if this is proportionate and justified by an assessment of the risk," the inspectorate recommended

Detainees, including children, are still being routinely handcuffed in custody in a practice described as "inappropriate and very concerning".

It follows inspections of court custody facilities in the Avon and Somerset, and Gloucestershire police force areas.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons report noted custody staff received little or no training in dealing with children, who were largely treated as adults.

It added this offered "no regard to their vulnerability".

However inspectors found custody staff in all suites behaved very humanely and respectfully towards detainees and were skilled in establishing a rapport with them.

"Many custody staff told us they did not feel confident that they had received sufficient training in equality and diversity, but we observed them identifying and meeting most individual and diverse needs appropriately," they said.

The report said handcuffs were routinely applied to detainees, including children, even in the secure and controlled custody areas, with no individual risk assessment.

"Handcuffs should only be used on detainees if this is proportionate and justified by an assessment of the risk," the inspectorate recommended.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The custody facilities at Taunton Crown Court were said to be "barely fit for purpose"

The report also highlighted the poor state of some of the custody cells, notably those at Gloucester and Taunton Crown Courts.

It said they were "small, cramped, cold and damp, lacked natural light and were barely fit for purpose".

Cleaning and maintenance were not always carried out well enough to ensure that conditions were appropriate for detainees, it said.

It recommended conditions across custody facilities should be improved.

"In particular, court custody cells should be of an adequate size and properly cleaned", it said.

"The temperature in cells should be appropriate, they should be free of damp and have access to natural light."

The report also noted some detainees were held in court custody for longer than necessary.

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