North East Wales

Wrexham custody conditions criticised, amid praise

Police cell being locked - generic
Image caption Conditions at Wrexham required "urgent attention," inspectors said

The "very poor" conditions in custody facilities at Wrexham police station have been criticised by prison inspectors.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons says the custody suite was "dark and dirty" and there was inadequate access to toilets for detainees.

However, excluding Wrexham, the report said custody facilities in north Wales were "good overall".

North Wales Police said they welcomed the report.

The report says: "The force had invested in the estate which was generally in good condition with the exception of Wrexham.

"The Wrexham custody suite was a concerning contrast to the good provision we found elsewhere and needed urgent attention.

"Conditions in Wrexham were very poor - the custody suite was dark and dirty; there was limited in-cell sanitation; call bells were taped over (as they were at two other locations); and there were inadequate arrangements to ensure detainees had access to the toilets when required."

The findings were published in a report by Sir Denis O'Connor, chief inspector of constabulary, and Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons.

The inspection - part of a wider programme - covered custody suites at Mold, St Asaph, Holyhead, Dolgellau, Caernarfon and Wrexham.

'Some excellent practice'

Inspectors found that North Wales Police had a "good strategic grip on custody" and there were "some areas of excellent practice".

The force was praised for "positive and appropriate interactions between staff and detainees", as well as "excellent nursing provision and good clinical care".

However, general criticisms included "some delays in response times for forensic medical examiners" and custody staff at times being "too risk-averse".

The chief inspectors said: "Overall, North Wales Police provided good custody facilities.

"The financial climate means it will be a challenge to maintain these standards but the strategic approach the force has taken means it is well placed to meet this challenge.

"Conditions in Wrexham were the exception - and required urgent attention."

Assistant chief constable Gareth Pritchard said: "We recognise the facilities at our busiest suite in Wrexham are not as modern as those in other areas of north Wales.

"As with all the custody suites officers and staff at Wrexham had positive and appropriate interaction with detainees, but the physical condition of the building is in need of improvement.

"Some work has already been done to improve the general cleanliness and overall appearance of the suite, but the style and age of the building makes it difficult to improve further without major capital investment."

He added: "We are continuing to work on improving how we deal with people in custody."