HC Deb 11 June 2002 vol 386 cc1229-30W
Bob Spink

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many complaints have been made about the operation of the police station cells lay visitors scheme in each constabulary in each of the last three years for which records exist; [53927]

(2) how many visits have been made in each police authority under the lay visitors scheme and its successor in each of the last three years for which records are available; [53928]

(3) what the cost was of running the lay visitors scheme for each police authority in each of the last three years for which records exist; [53924]

(4) if he will list the police authorities and other bodies that have made representations to him calling for changes to the custody visitors schemes, indicating the changes requested. [53923]

Mr. Denham

During the most recent review of the Home Office guidance to the police on lay/custody visiting, representations were received from the following bodies:

  • Police Authority
  • Cheshire
  • Derbyshire
  • Dorset
  • Greater Manchester
  • Metropolitan
  • Norfolk
  • North Yorkshire
  • North Wales
  • Nottinghamshire
  • West Yorkshire
  • Wiltshire

Police Force

  • Derbyshire
  • Greater Manchester
  • Lancashire
  • South Yorkshire
  • Surrey
  • Sussex

Other Body

  • Association of Police Authorities
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
  • Independent Custody Visitoring Association
  • Police Complaints Authority
  • Police Federation
  • Superintendents' Association.

The most common issues raised were the organisation, recruitment and conditions of service of lay/custody visitors, as well as the administrative support provided by police authorities. There were also concerns about the level of training provided and procedures for carrying out visits, such as frequency and visiting in pairs.

Records of numbers of visits, the costs of running schemes and the number of complaints received are not kept centrally and the information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Police Reform Bill before Parliament includes provisions for placing independent custody visiting on a statutory basis. Custody visiting schemes in each police authority will then be mandatory and a supporting code of practice will provide for consistent standards across England and Wales.