Police inspectors concerned about 'contaminated' cells

29 January 2018, 13:42

Police generic

Inspectors raised "significant concerns" about cleanliness at one of Police Scotland's custody centres after cells were found "contaminated" with food, drink and body fluids.

Members of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) said a "deep clean" of the cells, shower and sink areas and kitchen at Dundee custody centre was "urgently required".

Police Scotland dealt with this "promptly", the inspectors said, but they added they were concerned their visit had been the catalyst for action.

An HMICS report in custody facilities in the Tayside area said "many cells" in the Dundee custody centre were "not clean".

The inspectors stated: "Cell door hatches, walls, benches and toilets were contaminated with food and drink and bodily fluids. Cell corridors were messy, and the sink and shower areas were dirty and slip hazards had not been removed. Many of the mattresses and pillows were in a poor state.

"We also had concerns about the cleanliness of the kitchen which is used to prepare detainee meals as well by custody staff for storing and preparing their own meals."

Cleaning arrangements for the centre were "inadequate", the inspectors said, pointing out that at the time of their visit the cleaner was on leave and there was no replacement.

Police Scotland bosses were "immediately informed" about the issues, with HMICS recommending a deep clean be carried out, with day-to-day cleaning arrangements also to be reviewed.

A follow up visit in November 2017 found this had been done, with inspectors told the force will now ensure all custody cells are deep cleaned twice a year.

The inspectors said: "While we welcome the action taken by Police Scotland, we remain concerned that our inspection was the catalyst for improvement."

And they urged local police chiefs to consider why "custody staff in Dundee either did not raise concerns about their working environment or insufficient action was taken in response to any concerns raised".

Chief Superintendent Garry McEwan, from Police Scotland's Criminal Justice Service Division, said: "I welcome the HMICS report and the acknowledgement that we've undertaken a significant programme of work following the initial inspection of custody facilities in Tayside.

"The care and welfare of people in police custody is a top priority for Police Scotland and the report recognises many of the improvements made."