Half of police suspects need medical attention

SUFFOLK: More than �1million was spent on medical attention for suspects held in Suffolk police cells in just 12 months, according to constabulary figures.

SUFFOLK: More than �1million was spent on medical attention for suspects held in Suffolk police cells in just 12 months, according to constabulary figures.

Officers deemed nearly one in two people taken into custody needed some form of professional care.

From April 2008 to March this year, 7,856 (47per cent) out of a total of 16,700 suspects had to be treated at police stations around the county.

The total cost to Suffolk's cash-strapped force was �1,050,646.


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An outside company, G4S Forensic Medical Services, provides medical cover for police outside normal hours.

Officers are given protocols about prisoners in respect to self harm or suicide, mental health issues, heart disease, head injuries, epilepsy, drug or alcohol dependency, diabetes, asthma, intimate body searches and even nicotine dependency.

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Another effect of suspects who are at risk of self-harm is the need for additional officers to be involved in looking after them, which means police have to be taken off the streets to ensure the prisoner's well-being.

The budget for custody medical services for 2009/10 is �1.1m.

However, in a bid to keep costs down Suffolk police have recommended the Criminal Justice Liasion Nurse scheme operate longer than its current hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Work is also being undertaken to explore the feasibility of transferring budgetary responsibility to the NHS as soon as possible.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “The welfare of people held in police custody is of utmost importance. Legally, all forces have to comply with national legislation, which gives detailed instructions about the care and treatment of detainees.

“Many people who come into custody often do so with physical or mental vulnerabilities or both.

“There are often problems around alcohol or drug-related abuse or misuse. For this reason anyone who is taken into custody is risk assessed. Any issues identified are then referred to a medical expert for further assessment and treatment, if required.”

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