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New national strategy for police custody

13 Jan 2017

Police chiefs have developed a set of nationally consistent principles to complement existing legislation and guidance and help forces ensure that they are using custody in a way that is legitimate, effective and efficient.

The strategy has been launched in response to developments in policing, including more focus on vulnerability, increased scrutiny, and further collaboration between forces.  At the centre of the strategy is the consideration of the impact of custody on vulnerable people and the commitment to ensure all detainees, particularly those that are vulnerable, are treated with respect and their rights protected. 

The National Custody Strategy sets out a number of aspirations for police custody, including:

  • eliminating the use of police custody for Mental Health Act detentions;
  • ensuring children are only held in custody as a last resort;
  • encouraging innovative but appropriate alternatives to custody;
  • utilising opportunities to collaborate where it will save money or help us work better;
  • consistently identifying and managing risk.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead on Custody, Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave said:

“Police custody is a fundamental tool in police investigations that must be used fairly and consistently across police forces. 

 “I am pleased to launch the first National Custody Strategy to provide a clear vision for custody and drive important work under the three themes of efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy. 

“The strategy states that police should place people in custody only where necessary, with an ambition to eliminate the use of custody for people with mental ill health and ensure it is only ever a last resort for children. 

“I am grateful to the many stakeholders who have contributed to its development and I look forward to working with them as we now develop work-plans and start to implement the strategy.”

Further information:

The National Strategy will be adopted by the College of Policing as reference material and will also be reviewed through the National Custody Forum and Regional Custody Forums.

The full Strategy document is available here.

College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice on custody detention available here.