SDU FAQs

The Safer Detention Unit FAQ sheet

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

Section 30 (1A) of PACE.

 Subsection 10 states that police can delay taking a person to a police station if the presences of that person elsewhere is necessary to carry out the investigation i.e a shop or football stadium with the SDU in it.

(10) Nothing in subsection (1A) or in section 30A prevents a constable delaying taking a person to a police station or releasing him on bail if the condition in subsection (10A) is satisfied.

(10A) The condition is that the presence of the person at a place (other than a police station) is necessary in order to carry out such investigations as it is reasonable to carry out immediately.

In this case a constable carrying out an investigation prior to arrest does not have to take a person immediately to a police station.

Once the constable decides that they have sufficient grounds for an arrest in normal circumstances they should take the person to a police station unless they release the individual on bail (Street Bail in this case) or;

“the persons presence is necessary in order to carry out such investigations as is reasonable to carry out immediately. In this case at a store or football stadium where the SDU is situated. (7A)

The law states that arrest and further detention should always be seen as a last resort. If the officer is considering a range of immediately available options it could be considered unfair to take an individual on a journey to a central police station custody suite for simple processing.

The officer should consider the proportionality of the outcome of the matter against arrest and detention. If the eventual outcome would be Caution, Conditional Cautions, Penalty Notices for Disorder, etc, it would be disproportionate to take the suspect a distance to the police station simply.

The PACE Codes of Practice further state:

Code – G

1.2 The exercise of the power of arrest represents an obvious and significant interference with the Right to Liberty and Security under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights set out in Part I of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998.

Code G 1.3 The use of the power must be fully justified and officers exercising the power should consider if the necessary objectives can be met by other, less intrusive means. Absence of justification for exercising the power of arrest may lead to challenges should the case proceed to court. It could also lead to civil claims against police for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.

Can an SDU or Short Term Holding Facility manage risks?

When installed and managed by police the STHF would be managed as if it were a custody suite. The MPS Form 57M would be completed on every occasion.

The concept of Fast Track Prisoner Processing is an initial risk and process assessment at the point of arrest managed through the force control room. This process would manage which prisoners are directed to a STHF or to a regular police station.

This is a demand reduction process that would direct non-violent, healthy minor crime prisoners to a more efficient and cost effective facility or for suspects to be processed on site if a store or shopping centre had a SDU.

The risk assessment would be completed on arrival at the SDU and reviewed throughout the detention process.

Use in Private and Public Sector Environments

Shops and private businesses including security staff at football stadiums can hold people anywhere until they decide on their action. (So long as lawfully detained or arrested). This could be to question and then release with a store ban, or it could be to call the police.

They already hold suspects in this process but do so in offices with the risks attached of moveable furniture, potential weapons (office equipment) and lack of room to manage conflict should it arise.

They are allowed under Section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (and subsequent amendments) to hold someone until the arrival of police, in fact every citizen has this power.

If the police open a shot term holding facility in a shopping centre then it is up to the police force to designate the facility as a police station or a non designated police station. People detained at a police station (non-designated) can be held for up to 6 hours.

Compliance with Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998 covers the rights to liberty and security. Section 1 states the following:

(1)    Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

Subsection 1(C) states:

(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so.

Therefore loss prevention officers, store detectives and security officers can ‘detain’ people prior to handing them to the competent legal authority being the police. As some store have to wait a number of hours for police to arrive, they should ensure that risks are managed and that suspects are held in appropriate and secure conditions. The SDU provides such a safe and secure environment.

Can someone be processed at a Safer Detention Unit or Short Term Holding Facility?

In the DPP’s Guidance on Charging 2013 – 5th Edition police do not have to consult the CPS and can charge or dispose of immediately in the following circumstances:

·         Any SUMMARY ONLY offence irrespective of plea - except where excluded in column B – including the offence of criminal damage where the total value of any property destroyed or damaged is less than £5000. Provided the Full Code (Evidential and Public Interest) Test is met.

·         Any anticipated guilty plea EITHER WAY offence suitable for sentence in a magistrates’ court. Any offence of retail theft (shoplifting) or attempted retail theft irrespective of plea provided it is suitable for sentence in the magistrates’ court.

·         The police may conclude any summary or either way offence where an Out of Court Disposal is considered

Guilty Plea may be anticipated when:

•      the suspect has made a clear and unambiguous admission to the offence and has said nothing that could be used as a defence, or

•      the suspect has made no admission but has not denied the offence or otherwise indicated it will be contested and the commission of the offence and identification of the offender can be established by reliable evidence or the suspect can be seen clearly committing the offence on a good quality visual recording.

CPS data indicates that 80.9% of offenders for minor crime admit guilt at the point of arrest and the guidelines were brought in to reduce the demand on the CPS.