Criminal Justice System under the Spotlight on Stevenage District Day
The Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, used his recent district day in Stevenage to focus on some key aspects of the criminal justice system, from arrest and detention right through to disposal in the courts.The Commissioner is committed to addressing challenges within the criminal justice system during his second term of office.
The visit began at Stevenage Police station, which as well as being the main operational base for police officers in Stevenage, also houses one of the two modern custody suites which take in prisoners arrested from right across Hertfordshire. There the Commissioner met the newly appointed Head of Custody, Chief Inspector Michael Todd and discussed the operational management of the centres and the issues they face. This includes occasional “lorry drops” of groups of migrants in Hertfordshire, which can put considerable temporary space pressure on suites whilst the detainees are being  processed.

Mr Lloyd also viewed the custody cells and was taken through the procedure that a detainee experiences upon being brought into custody, including drug testing, if they have been arrested for specific trigger offences. This system was introduced in Hertfordshire in April and the Commissioner was given a demonstration of how the equipment works by one of the detention officers.

He also met two Independent Custody Visitors, who volunteer their time to visit and check the quality of the custody suites and report on detainees’ welfare issues regularly. There are currently 55 volunteers in place, who each make up to 8 visits a year.

The Commissioner then paid a visit to Stevenage Magistrates’ Court and observed a case in progress as well as talking to a judge and court officials about the issues they face. Promoting improvements to the efficiency of the the criminal justice system in Hertfordshire is a key focus for the Police and Crime Commissioner and was a key pledge in his recent election manifesto.

Commissioner Lloyd has commissioned a review of the operation of the Criminal Justice Board in Hertfordshire with an intention to  help develop it as a focus for working with partners to improve the experience of victims and witnesses in the wider criminal justice system.
“We have already made great strides in improving the way in which victims are treated in the immediate aftermath of a crime and during the investigation. Sadly, it is still the case that things often go less well when victims come into contact with courts and the wider criminal justice system. I am determined to see big improvements in this area.”