Joint National baseline review of healthcare provision within police custody centres in Scotland

31 January 2023

The aim of this joint review was to determine the existing provision of healthcare services to people detained within police custody centres across Scotland to help inform our planning of future joint inspections of police custody centres by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland and Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

This report outlines examples of good practice that we found during our review and makes recommendations relating to the planning and delivery of healthcare where we believe improvements could be made. The development of a framework through which we will jointly inspect custody centres, will provide an opportunity for service provision to be inspected against a common standard going forward to help improve health and care outcomes for detainees. Two initial joint inspections are due to be undertaken by the end of March 2023, the findings from which will further inform our inspection methodology.

The review contains 7 recommendations that aim to improve healthcare provision and to achieve better outcomes for people in police custody.




The Scottish Government, NHS boards and HSCPs should introduce nationally agreed waiting time standards for the assessment and treatment of individuals detained in police custody centres to ensure equity of access to healthcare across Scotland.


NHS Boards, HSCPs and Police Scotland should collaborate on the development and publication of up-to-date guidance on the delivery of police custody healthcare and agree a revised memorandum of understanding between agencies.


NHS Boards and HSCPs should work collaboratively with mental health services to establish clear pathways and agreed protocols to improve access to secondary mental health assessments and to reduce delays for people in police custody.


NHS boards and HSCPs should undertake an assessment of the health needs of individuals detained in police custody and establish patient outcome indicators and a monitoring framework to ensure that patient needs are met.


NHS National Services Scotland, NHS boards and HSCPs should work together to ensure clinical data is appropriately recorded and monitored to ensure patient needs are met and to support the comparison of clinical data and national reporting of outcomes.


All NHS Boards and HSCPs should ensure they have an embedded process for quality assurance and evaluation of healthcare provision in police custody to support continuous improvement.


NHS Boards should develop a workforce strategy to deliver effective workload and workforce planning so they have the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time. Preparatory work should be undertaken to support the enactment of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019.

Publication type: 
Inspection report