STRIP-SEARCHES carried out on detainees at Barnsley’s main police station were not always justified and breached custody rules, according to a damning report.

The station, on Churchfield, has a 20-cell suite and was included in a report carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

An 11-strong inspection team found cases in which there was ‘poor attention’ to maintaining detainees’ dignity during strip-searches and ‘many aspects of care were poor’, with no drug specialists being available at the station to cater for the needs of substance abusers.

The report revealed one child was left in custody for eight hours - without having had a review for the detention - alongside adults which was another breach of regulations.

“At Barnsley, custody staff told us detainees would generally be strip-searched in a designated search room,” the report said.

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“We reviewed some cases where detainees were either strip-searched or had clothing removed for safety reasons where poor attention was paid to maintaining their dignity.

“Strip-searching and the removal of clothing for other reasons, with or without force, was not always justified or recorded well enough in custody records.

“Too many children who were charged and remanded remained in custody overnight when alternative accommodation should have been provided by the local authority. Some detainees were held in custody for too long when they should have been transferred to a health-based place of safety.

“At Sheffield, drug workers were embedded from 7am to 10pm with shorter hours at weekends and at Doncaster they worked between the custody suite and local court, but at Barnsley there were no drug workers present in the custody suite.

“This meant that opportunities to involve detainees in work on their addictions at a time of crisis and advise them on harm minimisation were inequitable between the custody suites.”

It was found that staff often worked overtime to maintain the required minimum staffing level, although those available were not always deployed effectively, with a lack a leadership and supervision noted by inspectors.

“This led to, for example, cell call bells not always being answered promptly, very low levels of access to showers and exercise for detainees and non-custody staff taking detainees to and from the cells, leading to poor key control,” the report added.

“It also meant officers carrying out close-proximity watches of detainees at the cell door were insufficiently briefed and inadequately supervised.

“Detainees had limited privacy, despite the new custody suites in Barnsley and Sheffield. Both suites had screens separating the booking-in desks, which provided physical privacy, but conversations between custody officers and detainees could easily be overheard.”

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said the report made for ‘uncomfortable reading’ - at a time when the force has recently been rated as ‘good’ by inspectors.

“I was concerned by some of the inspectors’ comments about the treatment of children, some aspects of which were serious breaches of the rules,” he added.

“It is clearly unacceptable that a young person should be detained for eight hours or not prioritised when being booked in. Children should not be kept alongside adults for long periods in a custody suite.

“The review of children being detained every four hours was also not being done consistently and girls were not always in the care of a female officer, as is required.

“The force will need to understand how any of this could possibly happen.”