College releases new guidance for custody officers and staff

New national guidance addresses custody process from arrest to bail

​New interim guidance on detention and custody has been released for officers and staff.

The Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is focused on creating an environment where investigations can be conducted effectively and legally while keeping officers and staff as safe as possible from assault and harm and maintaining the welfare and dignity of detainees.

The guidance, which addresses every facet of the custody process from arrest through to bail, is to be updated following further consultation with stakeholders. Along with the APP, new learning standards are to be released as part of the National Policing Curriculum.

As part of the guidance, custody officers and staff are advised they must record every use of force against detainees and are given advice on the safest way to restrain prisoners for their own safety, including warnings against positional asphyxia.

College of Policing lead for crime and criminal justice, David Tucker, said:

"It is the job of custody officers and staff not only to ensure that the detention process is lawful and proportionate but also to keep detainees safe. Staff do a superb and effective job under what are often extremely challenging circumstances.

“As the professional body for policing, the College's role is to improve standards and establish a national framework so all forces have a consistent approach to detention and custody.

"Every death in or following custody is a tragedy. Unfortunately, many people come into custody under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which puts them at greater risk of harm.

“Custody officers are not doctors but detainees are subject to a detailed risk assessment and closely monitored. Our guidance makes it clear that any health concern must be addressed immediately. We are also leading a review of the training officers receive in dealing with those with mental health concerns.

"The APP also addresses the use of pre-charge bail. Bail should be used proportionately and legitimately with realistic anticipation of how long the investigation will take in each individual case, to enable the effective management of expectations of both suspects and victims.”

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