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H01 Defendant Custody Management

1. Security protective marking

1.1. Not protectively marked.


1.2. This policy has a supporting Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which remains restricted  under exemptions covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

2. Summary of changes

2.1. The following updates have been made to this policy on 30 July 2012:


    • The link to SDHP guidance in paragraph 4.1 has been updated. 

 2.2. This policy is scheduled for review in November 2013. The review for this policy is on hold pending the Kent Police Policy Restructure throughout 2013/14.

3. Application

3.1. This policy applies to all custody staff.


4. Purpose

4.1.  This policy provides information on all stages of the arrest and detention process and has been updated to reflect changes and best practice in the Safer Detention and Handling of Persons (SDHP) in Custody Guidance 


5. Pre arrest and alternative disposals 

5.1.  This section gives guidance on ways of minimising and managing the risks involved in detaining a person. It also advises on the use of alternatives to arrest. Officers must always consider whether a person's arrest is necessary and proportionate, in accordance with Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), Code G. Consideration should be given to alternatives to police custody, including Penalty Notices for Disorder (policy M104), Summons, Street Bail (policy H11) and whether or not that person requires medical attention.


5.2.  Supervision and security of prisoners at hospital

5.2.1 See constant supervision in hospital.


5.3.  Mental health

5.3.1.  Officers must refer to force policy M63 Mental Health Incidents for guidance.


5.4.  Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND)

5.4.1.  Policy M104 Penalty Notices for Disorder provides guidance on this alternative disposal.

5.5.  Street bail

5.5.1.  Policy H11 Bail provides guidance on this alternative disposal.


6. Arrest and detention

6.1.  Risk assessment and arrival at custody

6.1.1.  Risk assessment means continually assessing the risk and potential risk that each detainee presents to themselves, staff, other detainees and to others coming into the custody suite.

6.1.2.  Refer to Detainee Risk Assessment in the SDHP guidance which identifies a process which may be used when carrying out the risk assessment.


6.2.  Observation and engagement

6.2.1.  See SDHP 2012 for further guidance.

6.2.2.  Four levels of observation should be used:

    • Level 1 - General observation;
    • Level 2 - Intermittent observation;
    • Level 3 - Constant observation;
    • Level 4 - Close proximity.


6.3.  Initial action/ assessment of detainee

6.3.1.  All detainees must be seen and assessed by the custody officer as soon as practicable after arrival at the police station and the assessment will be recorded within form 1818 of the custody record.

6.3.2.  Before an interview takes place, the custody officer must assess whether the detainee is fit to be interviewed. If doubts are raised about their fitness for interview, the detainee must be assessed by a FNP before the interview takes place as failure to do this may prejudice subsequent proceedings.


6.4.  Detention not authorised

6.4.1.  A custody record must be opened for all detainees who arrive at the police station.

6.4.2.  If the custody officer believes that there are insufficient grounds for detention, the reasons must be recorded and the detainee released.

 7. Welfare and safety of others 

7.1.  Other detainees

7.1.1.  The needs of other detainees should be considered at all stages in their detention. This should include:

    • Clearing areas when a violent detainee is brought into custody;
    • Ensuring the cleanliness of cells;
    • Cleaning blankets after use by an individual;
    • Taking into account the possible consequences of cell sharing.

7.1.2.  Custody officers should consider the overall risk assessment for the custody suite, other detainees, and staff.

7.2.  Other professionals

7.2.1.  All visitors, including solicitors, healthcare professionals, appropriate adults, custody visitors, or interpreters, should be aware of their role and responsibilities prior to gaining access to custody.

7.2.2.  Custody areas must not be used as a gathering point for visitors and only those with legitimate reasons should be present.

7.2.3.  It is the responsibility of all custody staff to ensure if an individual is denied access to a custody suite or particular cell, the reason for this must be recorded.




8. Property documentation 

8.1.  With effect from 20 January 2004 the amendment to Section 54 of Police & Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) effectively removes the absolute obligation on the custody officer to record everything, which a detained person has with him/her.


8.2.  There is still a duty on the custody officer to ascertain everything a detained person has with him/her. It is a matter for the custody officer to determine to what level of detail a record should be made of the property a detained person has with them or had taken from them on arrest and there will still be circumstances where full records are appropriate. However, the custody officer can avoid excessively detailed and time consuming record-making by considering the specific needs against the following:


9. Adverse incidents

9.1.  An adverse incident for these purposes is: ‘Any incident which, if allowed to continue to its ultimate conclusion, would have resulted in the death, serious injury, or harm to any person.’


9.2.  All staff are encouraged to report ‘Adverse Incidents’ via the ‘Adverse Incident’ e-form. Recording information of Adverse Incidents will allow them to be investigated and analysed, and the lessons learned or changes required are collated, disseminated and implemented. The lessons should be followed even when the incident is not being investigated as a conduct matter or complaint.


10. Referrals, departures and remands 

10.1.  Policy H11 Bail provides guidance regarding bail procedure.

10.2.  Prisoner Escort Record (PER) form

10.2.1.  The purpose of the PER form is to ensure that all staff transporting and receiving detainees are provided with all necessary information about them, including any risks or vulnerabilities that the person may present. The identification of suicide or self-harm is one of the prime purposes of the form and it is a requirement to indicate both a current risk of suicide or self-harm and any known past risks. A PER form must be completed whenever a detainee is escorted from a police station to another location.

10.3.  Transfer of detainee while in custody

10.3.1.  When a detainee is transferred from a custody suite, a PER must be completed and accompany them. This would include transfer to:

    • Court;
    • Hospital;
    • Another police station or force;
    • Prison;
    • Prisoner Escort and Custody Services (PECS) contractor;
    • Military Police;
    • Immigration Service or agent.

10.3.2.  On returning the detainee from any of the above the escorting officers must return the PER form to the custody officer and inform them of any additional risks identified.


 11. Transportation 

11.1.  The transportation of all detainees must be subject of a dynamic risk assessment  

11.1.1.  Only police officers, escort officers designated under section 38 (police authority employees) or 39 (contracted-out staff) of the Police Reform Act 2002 should be used to transport detainees and Chief Officers must be satisfied that they are suitable, competent and trained to carry out the role.

11.1.2.  When a custody officer transfers custody of a detainee to any of the above, the duty to ensure that the detainee continues to be treated in accordance with PACE and its Codes of Practice is also transferred to that person. For further information see section 39(2) PACE and Schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002.

12. Buildings and facilities

12.1.  Health and safety

12.1.2.  Risk management, as set out in Health and Safety legislation, must be used when assessing possible hazards.

12.1.3.  The Health and Safety Executive defines a hazard as '...anything with the potential to cause harm', and a risk as 'the likelihood that a hazard will cause a specified harm to someone or something'.

12.1.4.  All employees have a responsibility under Health and Safety legislation to identify hazards and risks.

13. Training and learning provision 

13.1.  Custody Managers must ensure that all staff working in the custody suite are trained and competent before being appointed or allocated tasks within the custody suite.

13.2.  There must be continuing access to refresher training and learning opportunities while in post. The period required for refresher training should be determined by Kent Police Training School based on its content and the method of delivery.

13.3.  Kent Police Training School should conduct a training needs analysis of existing custody staff on an annual basis.

13.4.  Custody officers, detention officers, and constable gaolers must also receive training and refresher training in first aid, staff safety, control and restraint and manual handling.

13.5.  In addition to formal training, staff, retain individual responsibility for their own professional and personal development.



14. Other partner agencies

14.1.  Independent Custody Visitors - Refer to policy H15 Independent Custody Visitors

14.2.  Appropriate Adult Service - Please refer to policy H03 The Appropriate Adult Service.


15. Designated police stations


15.1.  Follow this link to view guidance on the designated police stations in Kent.


16. Consultation 

16.1.  As this policy has a high potential impact for race and diversity, consultation with the public and within Kent Police was undertaken.


17. Retention and disposal of records


17.1. Documents mentioned in the above policy will be retained for the period specified in the disposal schedule.


18.  Equality impact assessment


18.1. This policy has been assessed with regards to its relevance to race and diversity equality. As a result of this assessment the policy has been graded as having a high potential impact.


18.2. Attached is the latest equality impact assessment that forms part of the policy review process.

Policy reference: H01 Defendant Custody Management
Policy owner: Chief Superintendent. Head of Central Investigation Command
Contact point: Policy Unit, 01622 652622
Date last reviewed: 13 June 2011
Document last saved: 15 October 2013