Suffolk/Norfolk: Police forces praised for joint ‘lock-ups’ project

SUFFOLK and Norfolk police have been praised by inspectors for setting the benchmark for constabularies working together.

Norfolk and Suffolk police forces began sharing six new lock-ups (termed “police investigation centres”) in February last year.

The buildings - in Bury St Edmunds and Martlesham in Suffolk, and Wymondham, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Aylsham in Norfolk - replaced the forces’ separate previous arrangements.

A report into the unannounced inspections has been published this week.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, issued a statement saying: “Overall, we recognise that the Norfolk and Suffolk joint custody programme now sets a benchmark for the quality both of custody provision and of thoroughly planned and executed joint working.

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“This report provides a small number of recommendations to assist the forces and the Police Authorities to improve provision further.

“We expect our findings to be considered in the wider context of priorities and resourcing, and for an action plan to be provided in due course.”

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It is expected that as police forces struggle to work within straitened budgets, more partnerships could be established.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

n The strategic framework was robust and there was good communication and collaboration between the different police investigation centres;

n The design and facilities management arrangements were excellent, and staff and detainees benefited from the clean, spacious environment;

n Strong and consistent management, with a sustained attention to detail, to quality assurance, to effective handovers and to individual staff roles ensured a remarkable degree of consistency in custody processes;

n Staff felt a real pride and ownership in the system, were calm and in control of their suites and were proactive in good risk assessment and management;

n Provision for minority groups was appropriate and detention was not overused;

n Health care provision was of a good standard with a tightly drawn contract, though there were some delays in attendance and some issues in infection control.

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