Intended for healthcare professionals


Healthcare services in police custody in England and Wales

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 14 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1994
  1. Andrew Forrester, consultant in forensic psychiatry1 2,
  2. Lucia Valmaggia, senior lecturer in clinical psychology1 2,
  3. Pamela J Taylor, professor of forensic psychiatry3
  1. 1South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London SE5 8AF, UK
  3. 3Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to A Forrester andrew.forrester1{at}

Recent government U turn leaves police healthcare adrift from the NHS

In December 2015, the UK government announced that planned changes to the commissioning of healthcare for people held in police custody in England and Wales would not proceed. These changes had been well considered (having been in planning since a key report by Lord Bradley in 20091), set out formally, and described as one route to securing excellence.2 The government announcement, however, means that the commissioning of these specialist health services will remain with police and crime commissioners instead of being transferred to the National Health Service. This sets police healthcare apart from all other healthcare services, including those that are provided in other parts of the criminal justice pathway.

The decision represents a missed opportunity. It will prevent much needed service development and could set back current healthcare delivery. It represents a policy reversal that …

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