Male officers watched as woman was stripped in Harrogate Police Station

Male officers at Harrogate Police Station who watched as a woman was forcibly stripped of her clothing have been '"reminded of procedures" following an investigation.

Monday, 4th July 2016, 1:26 pm
Updated Monday, 4th July 2016, 2:32 pm
Harrogate Police Station

In March, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons and Inspectorate of Constabulary released a report examining police custody suites across North Yorkshire.

The report investigated the treatment and conditions those in custody should expect in custody as well as their individual rights and health care expectations.

However, the report criticised Harrogate Police Station after inspectors observed CCTV footage of a woman having her clothes "forcibly removed" in front of four male officers.

The woman was left partially naked in front of the male officers with "little, if any consideration of maintaining her dignity."

At the time, police managers explained there was no rational explanation for the presence of these male officers in the cell and an investigation was immediately launched.

Following the investigation, North Yorkshire Police explained that the male officers were on hand to support their colleagues due to the level of violence shown by the woman.

However, the force admitted it was "not appropriate" for the officers to be stood inside the cell and should have stayed close by in case of an emergency.

A spokesperson said: "In this case, a violent woman had been brought into custody. She was taken to a cell by women officers and restrained by women officers who then had to replace her clothing with custody-issue clothing for her own safety to prevent self-harm.

"Due to the level of violence, male officers were on hand to offer support to their colleagues should it have been needed.

“The male officers were stood inside the cell to offer this assistance, which was not appropriate under the circumstances. They should have stayed away from the cell but close by in case they were needed in an emergency.

“A full investigation was carried out and as a result, the officers were given management advice which included a reminder of the procedures and training given to all officers when dealing with detainees.

“North Yorkshire Police take all complaints seriously, this was an isolated incident and steps have been taken to ensure it does not happen again.”

After reviewing several custody records at the station, the March report found officers did not record all identified risks and vulnerabilities of those in custody before their release.

This was highlighted as records failed to identify that a woman with mental health issues was at risk of self-harm and suicide when she was released from Harrogate Police Station.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons and HMIC also found that a vulnerable 15-year old girl who was due to be monitored every 30 minutes was left for longer periods on several occasions, including one 55-minute gap between recorded observations.

The report followed unannounced inspections in Harrogate, York, Northallerton and Scarborough, and noted the force had two fewer custody suites since the last review in 2010, following the closure of Selby and Skipton.