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Police custody improvements needed

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By Euan Maxwell
Police custody improvements needed

MEDICAL safety issues have been identified in two Dumfries and Galloway police custody centres.

Healthcare providers at police custody centres in Dumfries and Stranraer have been advised to improve prescribing procedures and the storage, dispensing and administration of medicines.

Inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) found there’s no immediate access to healthcare staff at either centre.

The joint report highlighted the good service provided by the mental health in-reach team and that detainees were complimentary about custody staff and the clean and suitable condition of the custody centres.

It also welcomed the introduction of digital handheld tablets which enabled contemporaneous records to be made of observations and interactions with detainees.

Containing 14 recommendations for Police Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership, the report outlined the need for improvement in the arrangements for detainee observations at the Dumfries centre, describing them as “not fit for purpose” due to their proximity to the charge bar and resultant lack of privacy.

It also noted that anti-harm clothing was available only in large sizes and not suitable for women or small and average sized detainees.

Mark Hargreaves, HM Assistant Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, said: “We identified safety issues regarding medicines at both locations where there appeared to be open access to them and limited control measures in place.

“We brought this to the immediate attention of the health and social care provider.

“We have requested the completion of an action plan to address these issues within a three month period.

“We were also concerned to find that, at times, custody staff at the Dumfries centre had been instructed to prepare blister packs or take stock medications from the store and administer them to detainees.

“Custody staff should not be asked to do this – it’s not considered safe nor acceptable practice and raises patient safety concerns.”

Since the inspection, HMICS said it has been advised that “progress is being made to address this issue”.

It added: “Police custody is a high risk area of policing business and, as such, has been subject to considerable scrutiny by HMICS since Police Scotland was established, with 11 reports published.

“These reports remain relevant as Police Scotland continues to address recommendations made.

“The service has made considerable progress with implementing previous recommendations and improvement actions in respect of custody centres and is working to address those that remain outstanding.”


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