Counter-Terrorism Policing’s (CTP) specialist Terrorism Act (TACT) custody suites have been praised in a joint report produced by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Following the first-ever independent inspection of CTP’s five TACT custody suites across the country, the detailed report has deemed the conditions in which detainees were held to be of ‘good standard’.
Those arrested under TACT can be held in custody for up to 14 days – significantly longer than detainees held in mainstream custody – and, as a result, there are different legal requirements for the detention, treatment and questioning of these prisoners.
Due to the longer detention period there are a number of key differences between regular custody suites and TACT ones, in particular the need for regular health checks, reviews of detention or welfare visits and an enhanced food and drinks provision.
The inspection, which took place in January and February this year, focused on the experience of the detainee in relation to custody. It didn’t cover criminal investigations or their outcomes.
Some of the positives highlighted are as follows:
*Custody staff spoke to and treated detainees respectfully and considered and maintained their dignity during their detention
There was good attention to meeting detainees’ individual and diverse needs
Physical conditions in TACT custody suites were very good
There was a focus on diverting children from custody, where possible. Very few children were detained, but those who had been received good care
Despite the positives, the report did flag areas for improvement in the governance and leadership of the TACT custody suites, highlighting a lack of national guidance to ensure a consistent approach across the country.
Recommendations put forward include:
*The development of a clear framework for delivering TACT custody supported by national policies and guidance within which all forces can operate
*Forces to strengthen governance arrangements, with senior officers taking clear accountability for the delivery of TACT custody in their force
*Forces to gather and monitor information on TACT custody to allow CTP to assess how well the services are performing across the country
In a joint statement, Peter Clarke (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons) and Wendy Williams (Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary) said: “Overall, this was a good inspection with many positive features. The network and individual forces were open to external scrutiny and, during the inspection, had already recognised and started to address some of our concerns. We were confident that the required improvements would be delivered.”