Home > Delivering custody services a rights-based review of the treatment, safety and wellbeing of persons in custody in Garda Síochána stations.

Garda Síochána Inspectorate. (2022) Delivering custody services a rights-based review of the treatment, safety and wellbeing of persons in custody in Garda Síochána stations. Dublin: Garda Síochána Inspectorate.

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This report examines the standard of treatment, safety and wellbeing provided to persons in custody in Garda Síochána stations. The decision to deprive a person of their liberty is a significant interference with their rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. So it is important that the Garda Síochána operates an effective custody system that protects and upholds the rights of people in custody and keeps them safe.

This was a self-initiated inspection which adopted a rights-based approach with particular consideration being given to the arrangements for children and vulnerable adults. Important elements of the inspection included engagement with people in custody, a detailed examination of custody records and, for the first time, unannounced visits to garda stations. The report contains a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening the safeguards that protect the rights of people in custody, ensuring the consistent operation of custody services and, where necessary, raising standards. They address the need for strategic and operational changes within the Garda Síochána, better multi-agency working and legislative change where appropriate.

Includes many references to substance use, for example:

PDF p.13 Figure D: Prevalence of alcohol and drug use, poor mental health and self-harm from custody records examined.

PDF p.35 Recommendation 35 The Inspectorate recommends that the Department of Justice consider enacting new legislation relating to the searching of persons in custody. - A search that involves searching of body orifices (apart from the mouth) should be defined in law, subject to a specific power which requires the person’s consent, authorised by a member of superintendent rank or above, carried out by a medical professional and, if the search is for drugs, it should be conducted at a medical facility

PDF p.61 The Case for Cross-Sectoral Partnerships - During visits to five garda divisions, the Inspectorate examined 318 custody records, 308 of which contained information about the person’s consumption of or dependency on alcohol or drugs and their mental health. Over 48% of these records showed that the person in custody had recently consumed or had a dependency on alcohol, drugs or both. Additionally, 25% of the records showed that the person had poor mental health or had engaged in self-harm and almost 14% showed that the person had drug or alcohol issues as well as poor mental health. There are well-established connections between mental health, drug/alcohol dependency and offending. In its 2010 report, Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice, the Irish Penal Reform Trust reported that many offenders present with factors such as low levels of educational attainment, poor mental health or substance misuse.18 The report went on to say that a one-dimensional intervention that focuses on a single aspect is unlikely to produce positive, long-lasting results, or halt an offending cycle. However, in practice, a policing response may be the only one that is available and accessible at the time.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Guideline, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Crime prevention
February 2022
188 p.
Garda Síochána Inspectorate
Corporate Creators
Garda Síochána Inspectorate
Place of Publication
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