Call to review control of medicines in custody suites

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Police should urgently review their control of medicines in custody suites, the criminal justice inspector said.

While physical conditions at most of the 12 units were good, chief inspector Brendan McGuigan highlighted problems with healthcare.

Many of the detainees were under the influence of alcohol or drugs and may have been aggressive, in crisis, out of control or needing protection.

Mr McGuigan said: “Inspectors were concerned to find problems still remained around the administration of medication in custody and level of checks performed before medicines were prescribed by forensic medical officers.

“The storage of medication in domestic fridges in some suites which were unlocked and not checked to ensure they were at the correct temperature, and inconsistencies around the storage and recording practices for medication not consumed by detainees were inappropriate.

“This is an area which requires immediate attention as the safe use and control of medicines cannot be assured.

“We therefore have repeated our previous recommendation that the PSNI urgently review its policies and procedures surrounding the safe selection, procurement, prescription supply, dispensing, storage, administration and disposal of medications. A clear audit trail to manage medications should also be established.”

He said steps were being taken to standardise practice in custody suites and efforts made to improve conditions for employees and detainees, which would assist custody staff to effectively manage the risks on a daily basis.