CUSTODY detainees were left naked in their cells with members of the opposite sex nearby, government inspectors have found.

A report into police custody suites in Dorset has revealed mental health support for detainees is a “cause for concern” with people possibly being detained unnecessarily.

Feedback was generally positive for the leadership at the two custody suites at Bournemouth and Weymouth and the contingency suite at Poole, as was the care of detainees.

However, issues were raised over the handling of detainees’ mental health care and dignity while in custody.

While detainees were described as suitably dressed when moving about the suites, inspectors found their dignity was not always protected.

Bournemouth Echo:

They said: “We found two cases where detainees had their clothing removed and were given safety suits but remained naked in their cell.

“We also saw occasions where doors to cells weren’t always closed during the removal of clothing and staff of the opposite sex were in the corridor.”

Regarding mental health, inspectors found: “The force and mental health services don’t have good enough arrangements to deal with people with mental ill health. Frontline officers called to incidents in public places can’t always get the support they need from mental health professionals.

“This potentially leads to people being detained under the Mental Health Act, when other more appropriate solutions may have been available.”

In the 12 months leading to January 31, 94 detainees were referred for an assessment and 62 of these were admitted to hospital.

There have been no deaths in custody in Dorset since the last inspection in 2016.

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth Police Station.Bournemouth Police Station.

One person took their own life after being released from custody in 2020, but the force referred this to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in line with its guidance.

Despite concerns raised, detainees spoke favourably of the care received while in custody and officers were praised for their professionalism and following of protocol.

“Custody staff interact respectfully with detainees and are patient and reassuring with them,” the report said.

The custody throughput between February 1, 2022, and January 31, 2023, was 7,945 people.

25 custody sergeants and 36 detention officers work across Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth.

Inspections were conducted jointly by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in February.