DORSET Police have welcomed a report scrutinising its running of custody suites and have pledged transparency.

Government inspectors recently published a report on the two custody suites at Bournemouth and Weymouth and the contingency suite at Poole where the overall feedback was positive.

It was stated that custody officers and staff are dedicated to providing a safe environment for those in their care, with inspectors praising the professionalism of staff.

Concern, however, was raised over the mental health support capabilities, as was detainees’ dignity at times being compromised.

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan, head of crime and criminal justice at Dorset Police, said: “We welcome the inspectors’ findings, which identified that the force was good at considering the necessary criteria when detention was authorised.

Bournemouth Echo:

“We have worked hard to improve the service provided in relation to the detention of children and young people. The inspection identified that we have a good understanding of our safeguarding responsibilities for children and vulnerable adults and have demonstrated good partnership working in this area.

“The report further determined that it is a clear priority for the force to divert children and young people away from custody and, by working with the Youth Justice Service, we try to identify the causes of offending and divert children from custody and the criminal justice system.”

On mental health, DC Supt Corrigan said the force recognised custody was not always an appropriate place for those suffering from mental health episodes.

He added: “Still, on occasions, it may be the safest place while another provision is sought, especially where there is a risk to the individual or wider public.

Bournemouth Echo: Dorset Police in Bournemouth

“We continue to work closely with our healthcare partners so that individuals suffering from mental health crises can be placed straight into a healthcare setting and police officers are able to resume their duties.

“We do have procedures for escalation when accommodation in a healthcare setting cannot be found, or officers are kept for protracted periods to ensure patients’ safety.

“The inspectors also identified that Dorset Police has effective governance to provide safe and respectful custody services and that the force had improved since the last inspection.

“This governance includes a clear and transparent performance framework and a structure of external and internal scrutiny that ensures high standards are met, sustained and learning captured and shared.”