TACT custody suites praised in joint HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HMICFRS report

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.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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