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Lincolnshire “doesn’t have effective oversight of use of force in custody”

A HMICFRS report into Lincolnshire’s custody facilities has found it is unable to show when force is used it is always necessary.

The use of force in Lincolnshire’s custody suites is not consistently managed well, a HMIC report has found. 

It comes in spite of a previous 2015 inspection highlighting the lack of monitoring of the tactic and calling for the force to collate and use data more meaningfully in this area. 

Seven years later, however, the problem remains - and today’s report has said that the force still lacks the information needed to prove the use of the tactic is necessary, justified and proportionate.

The report did acknowledge efforts the force has made to improve - including an inspector managing the cross referencing of incidents on the custody system against those held on use of force systems and reminding  staff to complete use of force forms. 

A review by the Inspectorate of 15 incidents via CCTV footage were found restraint techniques were not always deployed correctly.

Among the cases reviewed, there were instances where poor control techniques led to an escalation of the incident and subsequent further force which could have been avoided. 

Five cases were consequently referred to the force for learning - four of which demonstrated the use of poor techniques, including a lack of consideration for the dignity of the detainee, and a final case within which the use of force in an enclosed space could have exposed the detainee and the officers to injury. 

Custody officers often remove detainees’ clothing with cords or footwear and use anti-rip clothing without adequate rationale, according to the report. This was a further area that had been highlighted in the 2015 report and runs contrary to the APP guidance. 

Some detainees were found to stay “in an undignified state of undress for too long”, including being naked in their cell. 

Nonetheless, the force has a good quality of custody records as well as a commitment to meeting the equality duty. Diversion work for children and vulnerable adults was also praised within the report as well as the cleanliness of custody suites. 

Lincolnshire Police said: “We value the feedback from HMICFRS and note that they found a strong culture of treating detainees well and with respect.

“The report acknowledges that we have fully or partially implemented 32 of the recommendations from the last report, in 2015, and we will continue to strive to deliver the best service possible.

“We note both causes for concern raised in the report, and will take recommendations into account while considering how we can feed them into our existing scrutiny arrangements."

It added: “The report mentions that we are working hard to improve recording of the use of force in custody suites, and we have robust plans in place to make sure this is built upon.

“While accepting that there are areas for improvement, we remain confident in our provision of custody services.” 

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