Submission to the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) consultation - Expectations for Police Custody

January 2022

About the submission

In January 2022 HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) consulted with the policing and criminal justice sector to gain feedback on their proposals for refreshing the ‘Expectations for police custody’, including updates on wording regarding how detainees’ individual and diverse needs are met.

Detainees who speak English as a second or additional language (ESL) face a number of barriers in their interactions with the police, and may require a high standard of language and other support in order to receive equitable treatment with their peers who speak English as a first language when in custody. The Bell Foundation submitted evidence to this consultation from ‘Language Barriers in the Criminal Justice System’, an exploratory piece of research resulting in a series of academic, policy, and practice-focused outputs. 

Summary of recommendations:

  • Expectation 3.2 requires language support services to meet a minimum standard, such as interpreters with at least a Level 6 Public Service Interpreting qualification and 400 hours of experience.
  • Expectations 3.2, 3.4, and 4.7 state that language support must be offered at the start of every new interaction, or at regular intervals if a detainee is interviewed for a long period of time.
  • The inspection framework recognises the need for adequate training for staff to recognise and meet the needs of detainees who speak ESL, as outlined in Expectation 1.3.