Let me introduce myself. My Name is Tony Maggs. I work at the College of Policing as Senior Policy Advisor for Police custody. For those that may not know much about the College, it is the professional body that supports the 43 forces of England and Wales. I support custody specifically around knowledge, standards and education.
I also love police buildings, especially custody blocks!! Previously, I worked in Hampshire and helped deliver the new Police Investigation Centres. This includes the Eastern PIC known locally as “EPIC” which I know Katie has recently visited and seemed to like!!!
Because my passion includes Police buildings, I also represent the National Police Estate Group. NPEG is a group of estate professionals who work within policing. NPEG has a custody team who support forces nationally to deliver better, safer and more cost effective custodial estate, whether new build or refurbishment.
The NPEG custody group has developed significantly over the past year. We have gone from concept to reality and have trained Sergeants, Inspectors, building surveyors, project and estate managers from across the country. All of the panellists have worked on custody projects in force or in operational roles.
So- how does it work? On request, a peer team convene to support any constabulary wanting support. I call it the Custody Review Panel- the CRP and in the past year we have conducted reviews for new build and refurb schemes country wide. The group adds value by reviewing projects at an early design stage to help forces make good informed decisions that support consistent national standards and emerging themes. Custody projects aren’t cheap to build- and the end result needs to last decades. We help forces avoid costly mistakes and get them thinking about best practice- detainee dignity, privacy, safety and standards. We also help them future proof so they can incorporate infrastructure now for things that will be important tomorrow……
For me, policing is about keeping everyone safer. This means our communities but also staff, visitors and detainees who are under our care and control. Last year, 698,737 people were arrested and processed through Police custody. This includes some of the most vulnerable and complex individuals in society. In the same period, no- one died in a police custody centre. That is how it should be but sadly, this has not always been the case.
I haven’t written this blog to claim that this statistic is down to NPEG’s Custody Review Panel- it isn’t. It’s probably down to a number of factors including some brilliant staff across policing, embedded health care providers, liaison and diversion services- all who make good, risk based decisions on a daily basis. However, I also recognise that NPEG has helped. I know intuitively that supporting police forces make good decisions with their custodial projects “lifts the bar” and makes custody safer and more professional for all.
It is an exciting time…… with the reported uplift of police officer numbers, some constabularies are understandably thinking about their custody provision. More officer’s means potentially more detainees. I know some forces are embarking on new projects which NPEG will support.
As independent custody visitors, you play a vital role in checking and challenging what happens in these buildings. I hope, as you continue to visit sites up and down the country, you see improvements in the block you visit. If you know your area is planning a new build or refurbishment, point them in my direction. The Custody Review Panel are here to help……
All the best,