Independent custody visitors

Healthcare in custody

Start date: 01 December 2017
End date: 30 April 2018
  • The Metropolitan Police centralised its custody facilities and established Met Detention in January 2015. 
  • The new model for healthcare in custody includes 24/7 cover from Custody Nurse Practitioners (CNPs) at the 12 busiest suites, with the remainder covered by Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs). As of October 2017, the Metropolitan Police had still not recruited the full complement of staff needed for its enhanced model.
  • In April 2017, the Guardian reported that ambulance callouts to London police custody had “more than doubled” over four years.
  • The Police and Crime Plan commits to ‘review the effectiveness of custody healthcare arrangements.’

Our investigation

Back in 2014, the Police and Crime Committee found that the Metropolitan Police were struggling to provide adequate medical staffing to assess and treat detainees in their custody suites. Four years on, the Committee is looking at what the Metropolitan Police and MOPAC have done since to make sure that people in police custody are safe and get effective healthcare. 

In December 2017, the Committee spoke with frontline professionals working in custody suites to understand more about the system.

On March 7 2018 the Committee held a public meeting where representatives from the Metropolitan Police, MOPAC, and the NHS, as well as custody professionals, were asked about the findings of the investigation so far. Topics for discussion included: 

  • How the new custody model is working
  • The recruitment and retention of professionals
  • The care that children and vulnerable adults get in custody
  • Ambulance attendances at custody suites 
  • How the Metropolitan Police and MOPAC reduce risk in custody and learn from when incidents do take place

Get involved

If you have any views on this issue please email [email protected]

Follows us @LondonAssembly and tweet about the investigation using #HealthInCustody

Next Steps

On 10 September 2018, the committee published its report ‘Detained, not forgotten: healthcare in police custody.’

Whilst the committee found improvements in some areas, concerns remained about the care of children and vulnerable adults.

The committee made a number of recommendations, including:

  • MOPAC should, as part of its review of custody healthcare arrangements, carry out a robust assessment of the need for secure and non-secure accommodation for detained children and young people across London. By the end of 2018, we expect MOPAC and London Councils to have developed a roadmap for improvement in this area, demonstrating the steps they will be taking to reduce the number of children kept in custody.
  • MOPAC should conduct an urgent feasibility study for a pan-London Appropriate Adults scheme, like the one it runs for Independent Custody Visitors. Whatever the results of the proposed feasibility study, MOPAC should use its unique position, in conjunction with other parts of the GLA such as Team London, to increase awareness of the AA role as a volunteering opportunity and how Londoners can become an Appropriate Adult. We expect MOPAC to report back to the committee by December 2018, detailing its plans to improve the availability of Appropriate Adults across the capital.
  • The Metropolitan Police should, by the end of 2018, have improved the mechanisms for bringing together FMEs, CNPs and other custody staff. This could, for example, be through joint training, or networks to discuss developments in the provision of custody.
  • The Metropolitan Police should, by October 2018, have completed its analysis of ambulance callouts to custody suites. This should feed into the Mayor’s review of police custody healthcare arrangements and a copy should be provided to this committee.

The committee asked the Met and MOPAC to respond to the recommendations by 31 October 2018