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Custody Services

Our aim is: 'To provide custody services that underpin effective investigation and performance improvement through a smarter model of working; delivering consistent processes and a safe, secure, humane environment.'

Our key areas of focus are:

  • Supporting Force performance/quality of investigation by improving the management of bail.
  • Delivering safer detention for all detainees entering our custody facilities.
  • Ensuring the highest quality of service is delivered to all persons using Justice Services' custody facilities. This includes officers, detainees and all partners in the justice process.

For more information on how we deliver on the above please see the related articles below.

Custody Facilities

  • Tier 1 - These facilities are the mainframe of the custody provision, open 24 hours a day and staffed and managed by Justice Services.

  • Tier 2 - These facilities are fully equipped, mirroring Tier 1 facilities, but are not routinely open 24 hours a day. They form the first reserve, to be used in lieu of Tier 1 facilities that may have to be closed for repairs, at times when all Tier 1 suites are at capacity, for planned openings and/or major operations, when detainee numbers are expected to be higher etc.

Voluntary Interview

A person does not need to be under arrest for an offence to be questioned or interviewed about their involvement. A voluntary interview can be conducted by an officer at a police station where certain circumstances allow for this. The same procedure is followed and the officer complies with the Codes of Practice in the same manner as to those that have been arrested. Fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples can still be obtained by the officer. The interview is digitally recorded. The officer will obtain personal details to enable them to complete a VISP (voluntary Interview Staffordshire Police) record of the interview recording such details as name, address, date of birth, occupation, a risk assessment will also be completed. Rights and Entitlements under the Codes of Practice are also given and access to legal advice can be obtained. At the conclusion of the interview the officer has the same disposal options available to them such as receiving a postal charge, a conditional caution or many others to those that have been processed through the custody system.

You can find out more information on our Locations page.

Independent Custody Visitors

Independent Custody Visitors (ICV) are:

  • Independent members of the local community who visit police stations unannounced to check on the welfare of people who are in police custody.
  • They come from a variety of backgrounds and sections of the community.
  • They must be over 18.
  • They must have no direct or indirect involvement in the criminal justice system for example, magistrates and serving or former police officers or special constables.

Other people may also be excluded if they have direct involvement in the Criminal Justice System. This is to prevent possible conflicts of interests for the individual, and to maintain the independence of the scheme as a whole.

How are they selected and trained?

custody suite editVolunteers wishing to become Independent Custody Visitors will need to complete an application form. Then they will be asked to attend for an interview.

There is a training programme made up of practical and theoretical exercises covering all aspects of custody visiting and this is complemented by a set of guidelines and the basic principles of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). Those appointed are issued with an official identity card, which allows them to be admitted to the custody area of the police station.

Further training sessions will be arranged as a means of informing Independent Custody Visitors on new developments and, most importantly, sharing experiences.

Newly appointed Independent Custody Visitors will normally complete a probationary period. Appointments are then made for a set period which may be renewable.

When and where are visits made?

Custody facilities are visited regularly by pairs of Independent Custody Visitors. The actual timing of visits is entirely a matter for Independent Custody Visitors.

What happens when a visit is made?

Independent Custody Visitors must maintain their independence and impartiality. They do not take sides but merely look, listen and report on what is said to them.

On arrival at the custody suite, Independent Custody Visitors will be escorted to the custody area. The detainees will be identified by their custody numbers and strict rules of confidentiality exist.

Independent Custody Visitors may occasionally be denied immediate access for safety reasons and be asked to wait or to return later to complete their visit. Interviews with detainees are, for the protection of Independent Custody Visitors, normally carried out within sight but out of hearing of the escorting officer.

Reporting Procedures

A report is completed for each visit made. It records that a visit has taken place and provides an insight into the running of the custody area at the time of the visit. Copies of the reports are provided for the police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), and local panels. They provide a vital source of information on the environmental and welfare conditions of detainees. The information in the report form is analysed and the key action areas are recorded in addition to the issues which require attention.

Mentally Disordered Offenders

In all cases, where there are any doubts regarding mental illness or mental incapacity of someone whilst in police custody, the Health Care Professional (HCP) and an appropriate adult must be contacted (in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

Custody Suite AloneIn addition to the above, Custody Officers may call on the services of the Mental Health Team (MHT) to offer support and advice both to the detainee and the police. The Mental Health Team offer a service to people with mental health problems who have offended or are at risk of offending. The teams accept referrals from health and social care agencies as well as those within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Detailed below are the range of services that the teams may offer.

Functions of the team include:

  • Assessment of the detained persons mental/health needs.
  • Liaison with other relevant agencies regarding past, present or future contact from the health and social care agencies.
  • Collation of information.
  • Identification and facilitation of a comprehensive assessment, ie. Mental Health Act 1983 assessment.
  • Advice on risk management ie. safe custody.

The teams are able to share information with the police only with the client's permission.

The exceptions to this (which are made clear to the client) are:

  • Information will be passed on about any offences that the police do not know about, if disclosed.
  • Information about any offences that person intends to commit.
  • Information where the members of the team believe that the client poses a serious risk to themselves or to anyone else.

The teams will also arrange appropriate access to NHS and other services to assist the detainee.

The MHT Services do not provide a 24-hour service. No person will be detained purely to enable the service to come on duty and carry out a mental health screen.

Safer Detention

Safer DetentionThe guidance contains information to assist policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has been produced by the College of Policing (COP) on behalf of the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC). Guidance produced by the College of Policing should be used by the chief officers to shape police responses to ensure that the general public experience consistent levels of service. The implementation of all guidance will require operational choices to be made at local level in order to achieve the appropriate police response.

The guidance on the Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is available to read online.