Court cell conditions described as squalid

Court cleaning standards have been called into question after a report from HMI Prisons found dangerous conditions in cells across the UK.

The report states that court cells in England and Wales are an “accident waiting to happen”.

Cells were described as “squalid” and covered with offensive graffiti, creating unpleasant and dangerous conditions for detainees.

The Courts and Tribunals Service said it was carrying out a “deep clean” of court cell and improving procedures.

Inspectors stated that in some instances, detainees have been forced to spend up to 10 hours in windowless rooms in custody conditions that pose a health risk to those being held and the staff within the premises.

The report describes findings at one particular site:

“Physical conditions of custody areas were poor – to which managers were often oblivious – with deep cleaning and decorating of cells “clearly” being neglected for years. Some had “scarcely an inch of cell wall that was not covered in graffiti, some of it racist, offensive to women, or containing abuse and threats against named individuals”, while others had toilets so filthy and offering such little privacy that detainees were reluctant to use them.”

Other complaints included lack of prescribed medication for detainees appearing in court and custody staff not trained in risk assessment.

This should mean a complete overhaul of the way risk assessments are reviewed, as well as deep cleaning and maintenance requirements.