MANSFIELD: ‘Greater scrutiny’ needed at courts

09-0565-2''Mansfield Magistrates Court
09-0565-2''Mansfield Magistrates Court

A report has found that greater scrutiny and oversight are needed to improve court custody facilities.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons carried out inspections at some of the county’s magistrates and crown courts.

This was the fourth in a new programme of inspections carried out at Nottingham Crown Court, Derby Combined Court (crown and county) and Mansfield, Chesterfield, Derby and Nottingham Magistrates’ Courts.

The report, issued on 22nd October, raised a number of concerns with facilities and training at the courts.

These included not enough staff training about the extent and nature of their role in relation to the provision of custody facilities at their courts and also regarding child safeguarding practices, provision for the safety of detainees, staff and visitors to the court cells was poor, staffing levels were not sufficient in every court to deal with refractory detainees and in some instances, the care of vulnerable detainees was inadequate .

The use of handcuffs and routine searching was also found to be excessive and sometimes inappropriate.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “In summary, our concerns about safety, staffing levels and the inadequate provision for some of the most vulnerable detainees overshadowed the finding that in many respects, most detainees were treated with care.

“The physical condition of some cells was unsatisfactory. HMCTS needs to exercise greater scrutiny and oversight in its monitoring of standards.

“There needs to be better communications systems to ensure that staff understand policies and practices so that the conditions of detention can improve. Staff should be aware of basic safeguarding, child protection and mental health issues.”