Report - Inspection of custody centres across Scotland

Date: 7th November 2018
Category: Policies & procedures, Civil Rights and Freedoms, Age of criminal responsibility, Children in conflict with the law


HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland has published a report on police custody that includes recommendations on safeguarding measure related to children and young people. The report outlines the assessments made during inspections of 17 custody centres about the treatment of and conditions for those detained in police custody centres across Scotland.

With regards to the rights of children and young people, the report specifically highlights concerns around the inconsistent approaches to the strip searching of young people: “some staff told us that an appropriate adult such as a parent of guardian would always be present while others said this was never done”. The report recognises the importance of having an appropriate adult such as a parent or guardian present for safeguarding purposes, similar to the current approach in England and Wales under Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. It recommends that Police Scotland should ensure appropriate safeguards are put in place when strip searching children under the age of 18 in policy custody.

The report also presents evidence that the number of the children in custody has fallen and that “significant effort” has been made by staff to minimise the amount of time spent in custody by children. It notes that children are more likely to be kept in an interview room and “generally accompanied at all times” by a police officer, parent, guardian or other appropriate adult. It highlights difficulties experienced by the police when seeking alternatives to custody for young people such as places of safety or secure accommodation and asserts that this will be examined in greater detail during the strategic inspection of custody in 2018-19.