HMICS Inspection of custody centres across Scotland

19 October 2018

The aim of this inspection was to assess the treatment of and conditions for those detained in police custody centres across Scotland. We inspected 17 custody centres and assessed what progress has been made in achieving positive outcomes, adhering to national policy and processes, and implementing previous HMICS recommendations.

Our inspections of the 17 custody centres were unannounced and took place in May and June 2018. The centres visited were Ayr, Campbeltown, Coatbridge, Dunfermline, Dunoon, Elgin, Fort William, Greenock, Hawick, Kirkwall, Lanark, Lerwick, Lochgilphead, Oban, Saltcoats, Stornoway and Wick.

Our inspections of police custody contribute to the UK’s response to its international obligations under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). OPCAT requires that all places of detention are visited regularly by a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), an independent body or group of bodies which monitor the treatment of and conditions for detainees. HMICS is one of several bodies making up the NPM in the UK.




Police Scotland should develop its custody estate strategy as a matter of urgency in order to address variations in provision across the country and better meet demand.


Police Scotland should improve its systems to eliminate unnecessarily inconsistent processes and practice in custody.


Police Scotland should address outstanding HMICS recommendations as soon as possible with a view to improving the delivery of custody.


Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Scottish Government should ensure that the delivery of health care in police custody is appropriately scrutinised so as to improve outcomes for detainees.


Police Scotland should provide further guidance and training to staff on carrying out effective risk assessments and ensuring care plans manage the risks posed. Staff should also be reminded to record the rationale for risk assessments and care plans.


Police Scotland should ensure there are appropriate safeguards in place when strip searching children under the age of 16, and 16 and 17-year-olds, in police custody.


Police Scotland should publish force-wide data on the use of force.

Publication type: 
Inspection report