A WOMAN was forcibly stripped at York police station in front of male officers who had no reason to be in her cell.
23 MARCH 2016 | BY Dan Bean FOR YORK PRESS
In a report released today, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons and HMIC also said a man accused of rape was located in a corridor opposite a woman during the custody process "with no consideration of appropriate safeguards to protect her".
Inspectors viewed CCTV footage where a woman had her clothing forcibly removed "and was partially naked in the presence of male officers with little, if any, consideration of maintaining her dignity". When the incident was raised with police managers, inspectors said "there was no rational explanation for the presence of these male officers in the cell".
The report followed unannounced inspections in York, Harrogate, Northallerton and Scarborough, and noted the force had two fewer custody suites since the last review in 2010, following the closure of Selby and Skipton.
The report said: "North Yorkshire police had demonstrated some significant improvements in some areas since the last inspection, but more was required.
"Our main concerns relate to the treatment of detainees, with the disproportionate use of anti-rip clothing, inadequate oversight of the use of force and some risk-averse practices."
Inspectors were encouraged by "notable progress" with partners to reduce the use of police cells as places of safety in mental health cases and planned new collaborations with the University of York, but said "unfortunately, while progress was good, the numbers held were still high, and the force needed to do more".
The report praised NYP’s "notable progress in working with partners" to reduce use of police cells as places of safety for people with mental health issues, and use of mental health triage which helped divert vulnerable people from custody.
Custody Sergeants were praised for refusing unnecessary detention, and inspectors found interactions between staff and detainees "were generally courteous", with "good efforts to try and ensure children got bail".
However, it also criticised the carrying of knives by custody and non-custody staff while engaging with detainees, which "compromised detainee safety and was poor practice".
The report said "observation levels were often too low, not adhered to or reduced without adequate rationale", officers did not always record use of force – which happened 165 times last year – and completed forms "lacked details to make any meaningful judgements".
It also found incapacitant spray had been used eight times on detainees, "which was high considering there were usually enough custody staff to de-escalate a situation", and there were no CCTV recordings or use of force forms available regarding these incidents. The Press invited North Yorkshire Police to comment but the force had not done so as we went to print.
Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said: "There is always more we can do and I will work with the Chief Constable to ensure services continue to improve. I was particularly disappointed to see the Appropriate Adult service for children and vulnerable adults was under-performing having raised this with the County Council, the statutory provider."