Inspectors condemn West Midlands force's cells

Virtually every police cell in the West Midlands force failed safety tests, inspectors have said.

Their report said there were numerous "ligature points" in cells, where detainees could harm themselves.

But the joint report by prison and police inspectors concluded custody facilities in the West Midlands area were "positive in many respects".

The force said it "has already addressed many of the areas concerned around ligature points in cells".

'Inherently unsafe'

HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary carried out the inspection in October 2010.

One custody suite in central Birmingham was "inherently unsafe", with restrictions imposed on the number of improvements that could be made due to its Grade II listed status.

"Virtually every cell surveyed across the estate failed to pass our safety examination - there were numerous ligature points and health and safety monitoring was inconsistent," the report said.

Concerns included a mixed approach to risk assessment and problems providing appropriate adults for vulnerable detainees.

But inspectors said there were "some areas of excellent practice".

'Clear leadership'

They added they were pleased to find various aspects, including clear strategic leadership and "impressive" interactions with detainees.

Inspectors said substance misuse services were "generally good" and partnerships "generally worked well".

West Midlands Police said the inspectors "expect very high standards of safety in all cells and do not differentiate between old and new cells in terms of building design and safety standards".

Acting Chief Inspector Tracey Packham said: "Work has already taken place at Steelhouse Lane and all the ligature points identified during the inspection have since been removed.

"Work is currently under way to remove ligature points in other custody stations."

Ms Packham said all custody staff had received refresher training since the inspection and added that some of the force's work around mental health diversion has been held up as best practice nationally.

She said the force felt the report reflected much of the work already undertaken to improve safety and was taking action to implement the recommendations to improve safety standards further.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites