TWO custody suites in Hammersmith and Fulham are to close following a damning new report on custody facilities in the borough.
Shepherd's Bush custody suite has closed permanently and Fulham will also be closed except when there is high demand for cell space for low risk detainees in response to the report published last month.
Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi, borough commander, said she was 'disappointed' by the findings in the report and that she has implemented a number of changes, including the closure of the custody suites.
She said: “We fully embrace the recommendations in the report which has given us an opportunity to reflect on the service we provide and implement appropriate changes.
“We want to ensure that we provide a high quality of care to those 8,500 detainees that pass through the Borough's Custody Suites annually. “
The report from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, which was compiled from unannounced inspections of Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherd’s Bush custody suites in July, deemed custody facilities in the borough to be “disappointing”.
The treatment of juveniles in custody was particularly criticised in the report. At Fulham custody, which was described as 'run down and grubby' the report said that 'most staff could identify little reason to treat juveniles any differently to adults'.
“Staff could not recall having received child protection awareness training or anything that directed them to deal with juveniles in custody," it added.
“When we visited Fulham at 10.30pm, we found one juvenile being held in darkness because the nightlight in his cell had failed and this had not been picked up by a cell check.”
The report also highlighted the response times of Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs) who are hired by the Metropolitan Police Service to tend to detainees who require care. The average response time for a FME to arrive at a custody suite was two hours and 23 minutes, with some taking more than hours.
Often detainees were released before an FME arrived, including a pregnant woman who had recently undergone back surgery and was believed to be experiencing whiplash.
A lack of staff training, privacy, and basic hygiene provisions such as sanitary pads and toilet paper, as well as dirty, vandalised cells and haphazard medical storage, were amongst the other criticisms documented in the report.
Sir Denis O'Connor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, and Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “Overall, custody provision in Hammersmith and Fulham was disappointing and needed improvement.
“This report sets out a number of recommendations that we hope will assist the Metropolitan Police Service and Metropolitan Police Authority to improve provision within the borough.”