Independent inquiry to ensure safety of women and girls in Greater Manchester Police custody
- Independent inquiry commissioned by Mayor and Deputy Mayor into treatment of women and girls in GMP custody
- Expert Dame Vera Baird KC appointed to conduct inquiry and report
- Baird Inquiry to particularly focus on the use of strip searches and intimate searches and removal and replacement of clothing
- Care of female detainees and how complaints are dealt with also to be reviewed
- Inquiry aims to enhance the confidence of women and girls in GMP and in particular to report crime.
An independent inquiry into the experience of women and girls who are arrested and taken into police custody in Greater Manchester – particularly where clothing is removed - has been commissioned by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and Deputy Mayor Kate Green.
Following recent reports in the media of women who shared their experiences of being in the custody of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), the Mayor announced that he and the Deputy Mayor have asked Dame Vera Baird KC to conduct an inquiry.
Dame Vera - a highly experienced King’s Counsel, former Police and Crime Commissioner and national Victims Commissioner (2019-22) – will use her expertise to review the experiences women and girls who are arrested and taken into police custody, with a focus around their rights, their safety and their dignity.
The Baird Inquiry – which will result in a report - will particularly focus on the use of strip searches, intimate searches and the removal and replacement of clothing. It will also assess the care given to female detainees as well as how effectively complaints are handled after their release and if there is any inequality between the treatment of men and women.
Dame Vera will look at the experiences of three particular women, whose accounts have recently been featured in the media, and how widespread their experience may be, as well as examining if current GMP policy and procedures are fit for purpose. The Inquiry will look wider than these three cases, including speaking to voluntary and community groups which support women and girls.
Kate Green, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “The Mayor and I were both concerned when we saw recent reports in the media. When issues like these present themselves, we will face them head on and leave no stone unturned to establish what happened and what must be learnt.
“Dame Vera Baird KC, with her wealth of experience, is the perfect person to carry out this Inquiry and people can be assured that her work will be thorough and of the highest quality.
“The safety of women and girls is a huge priority for the Mayor and me. We have made no secret of that before and it remains as important as ever. That is why we have acted quickly so we can be sure that women and girls have confidence that they will be treated with dignity by Greater Manchester Police if they report a crime, or are taken into custody, and that actions of staff are appropriate.
“Ultimately, women and girls must have confidence in their police force, particularly when reporting crime, and we want the Baird Inquiry to help enhance this.”
Dame Vera Baird KC said: “The Mayor and Deputy Mayor were very concerned by recent media reports which could seriously put at risk public confidence and particularly that of women, in reporting crime or having any other contact with Greater Manchester Police.
“They have called me in to inquire into arrest, custodial practice, in particular strip searching, issues around mental health in custody, compliance with legislation and regulation and how complaints in respect of these issues are dealt with. I will look not only at the events in the media but collect experiences and information widely in order to answer whether women’s rights, their safety and their dignity are being appropriately honoured and protected by this force.”
Recommendations will be made by Dame Vera within the report to help guide the future practice of GMP around the rights, safety, care and dignity of women and girls reporting crime, on arrest and in their custody, and to enhance the confidence of women and girls in GMP and in particular to report crime.
Dame Vera will report directly to the Deputy Mayor in relation to progress and outcomes. The Baird Inquiry will then result in a report to the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, with an aim of Autumn 2023 for completion. The findings of the report will be published in full.
Article Published: 11/08/2023 09:18 AM