Northumbria Police custody suite concerns raised
Improvements are needed in custody suites across the Northumbria Police force area, inspectors have said.
A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found police custody was adequate but there were some problems.
Among the issues highlighted was the routine use of handcuffing.
Northumbria Police said it took its commitment to the welfare of detainees very seriously and steps had already been taken to improve the service.
Eight 24-hour custody suites along with stand-by and part-time suites across the force area were inspected.
Among the concerns were that the use of handcuffs was disproportionate with little consideration for risk, some older suites were dirty and risk assessment of detainees was completed inconsistently.
Areas of good practice were health care provision and medications management, that staff were respectful and staffing was adequate.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling, of HM Inspector of Constabulary, said: "Detainees were generally treated respectfully and their basic needs were provided for but this was too often at the initiative of the detainee rather than custody staff.
"Conditions varied from good to poor, and the inconsistent application of risk assessment processes was a significant area of concern.
"We consider the routine use of handcuffing to be disproportionate and more needs to be done to support those with mental health issues."
Supt Vince Stubbs, of Northumbria Police, said: "We take our commitment to the welfare of all detainees very seriously and welcome the findings in today's report, which highlights what we do well and areas where we can improve.
"A full review of our custody provision was ongoing at the time of the inspection and steps have already been taken to improve our custody services, including the appointment of a custody inspector at each area command and an overall force custody manager."