Sheffield & South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Police 'breached custody rules'

Barnsley police station Image copyright Google
Image caption Custody cells in Barnsley were among those examined by inspectors

A police force has been told to take immediate action after breaching custody rules by detaining a child for eight hours without review.

About 100 custody cells in Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield were inspected and found to have "several causes of concern and areas" needing improvement.

The use of strip-search "was not always justified" by South Yorkshire Police's custody staff, a report said.

The force said the safety of "everyone in custody is paramount".

"Although it was the force's policy to review the detention of children every four hours, the records we looked at did not demonstrate that this was happening consistently," the report said.

"In one case, a child left custody after eight hours without having had a review of detention.

"In addition, girls were not consistently in the care of a woman as legally required by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933."

Inspectors found cases in which there was "poor attention" to maintaining detainees' dignity during strip-searches and "many aspects of detainee care were poor".

The report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Prisons said the force was not "consistently" meeting the requirements of codes of practice for detention under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

The unannounced inspection in June also found female detainees were regularly not supported.

Inspectors said female custody staff were not "routinely available" and women were not always advised they could speak to them.

However, the force was praised for offering "a good range of menstrual care products".

In a joint statement, Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke and Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said the force had "made some progress since our last inspection in 2014 and was open to external scrutiny, which meant we were confident that it would take action to improve".

The force said it would be "learning from every case in order to develop staff and improve our service" by addressing recommendations made in the report.

More than 22,000 people were held in custody by the force between June 2018 and May 2019.

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