Met Police putting detainees in custody ‘at risk’ due to staff shortages


A new report has highlighted a major problem in recruiting and retaining nurses.


By SWLondoner staff

A shortage of medical staff to assess and treat detainees in custody could ‘increase their risk of death or serious harm’, according to a new report.

Only last month the Independent Police Complaints Commission reopened its investigation into the death of Sean Rigg, who had schizophrenia and died at Brixton police station in August 2008.

“No family should ever have to go through the burden of losing a loved one in police custody and then find that the legal system fails them time and time again,” said Mr Rigg’s sister Marcia after welcoming the reopening of the investigation.

“We hope that the compelling evidence will lead to criminal charges against the officers involved in Sean’s arrest, restraint and detention and ultimately his death.”

The London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee has found that there is a major problem with recruiting and retaining nurses working in custody suites, with the Met more than 100 nurses short of the 198 it wanted to have in place by 2012.

Chair of the committe, Joanne McCartney, said the Met must act now to address the understaffing.

“When the Met takes a person into custody they become responsible for their health and well-being, any failure in that duty can have catastrophic consequences for detainees and stain the Met’s reputation,” she said.

The committee is calling for a new strategy for increasing the number of custody nurses and an independent review of the content and appropriateness of their training.

The Met said there had not been a death in its custody since 2010 and that the current arrangements have not increased the risk of death.

“We take our duty of care extremely seriously and recognise that we are often dealing with some of the most vulnerable individuals within our community,” it said in a statement.

Photo courtesy of 4WardEver UK, with thanks.

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