To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that police forces provide people being held in their care with access to (a) medication (b) food and (c) fluid; and whether she is taking steps to require police forces to record data on access to these items.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Code C sets out requirements for police custody, including in respect of detainee healthcare, food and drink. The College of Policing also publishes Authorised Professional Practice guidance on detainee care.
The custody officer must make sure detainees receive appropriate clinical attention as soon as reasonably practicable if the person appears to be suffering from physical illness, is injured, appears to be suffering from a mental disorder or appears to need clinical attention.
The custody officer must consult the appropriate healthcare professional before a detainee takes or applies any medication that was prescribed prior to their detention. They should note this in the custody record. The custody officer is responsible for the safekeeping of the medication and ensuring that the detainee is given the opportunity to use or apply it as prescribed.
At least two light meals and one main meal should be offered in any 24-hour period. Drinks should be provided at mealtimes and upon reasonable request between meals. Whenever necessary, advice shall be sought from the appropriate healthcare professional on medical and dietary matters. As far as practicable, meals provided shall offer a varied diet and meet any specific dietary needs or religious beliefs the detainee may have. The detainee may, at the custody officer’s discretion, have meals supplied by their family or friends at their expense.
His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services’ (HMICFRS) inspects police custody facilities to ensure standards are maintained. HMICFRS sets out clear expectations that healthcare information is recorded on custody records, including any medication provided or required, and that detainees are offered and provided with sufficient food and drink to ensure their welfare and to meet their dietary, cultural and religious needs. Where forces fall short, HMICFRS may raise causes for concern and make recommendations in custody inspection reports.
In addition, locally appointed independent custody visitors make unannounced visits to police custody suites to check on standards of service provision.