Inspection of the strategic arrangements for the delivery of police custody

06 June 2019

The aim of this inspection was to assess the strategic arrangements for the delivery of police custody in Scotland.

Police custody is a high risk area of policing business and, as such, has already been subject to considerable scrutiny by HMICS since Police Scotland was established. Since 2013, HMICS has published seven police custody inspection reports. While the majority of our previous inspections focused on the treatment and conditions for detainees, this inspection focused on Police Scotland’s leadership and governance of custody, planning and process, people, resources and partnership working.




Police Scotland should clearly articulate and communicate its strategic direction for the future of custody to its staff and partners, as well as how it will be delivered.


Police Scotland should ensure there is sufficient expertise and continuity within the Criminal Justice Services Division leadership team.


Police Scotland should ensure that Criminal Justice Services Division receives the necessary analytical support from the Analysis and Performance Unit.


Police Scotland should regularly publish data about police custody.


Police Scotland should review its standard operating procedure on deaths and serious injury in police custody, ensuring it is up to date and reflects current practice.


Police Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service should work together to ensure that data about deaths in police custody in Scotland is published regularly.


Police Scotland should ensure that Criminal Justice Police Custody and Security Officers receive appropriate training and support for any non-custody roles they may carry out.


Police Scotland should ensure that any personnel being asked to book detainees into custody have received recent training and are appropriately supported and supervised.


Police Scotland should develop a site induction protocol for each custody centre so that those providing cover or remote supervision can quickly and easily learn about the centre, any risks and how they should be managed.


Police Scotland should ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place for constable-led custody centres. These should include training and support for constables, and the designation of an appropriate supervising sergeant.


Police Scotland should review custody procurement practice to identify further savings and efficiencies.


Police Scotland should develop an ICT roadmap for custody.

Publication type: 
Inspection report