Assessing an individual's fitness to be interviewed in police custody
Evidence & Practice    

Assessing an individual's fitness to be interviewed in police custody

Matthew Peel Custody nurse, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Leeds, England

Nurses working in police custody settings may be called on to assess a detainee's fitness to be interviewed by police, for example where the person is thought to have a mental disorder or vulnerability. This article outlines the role of the custody nurse in the fitness-to-interview assessment. This assessment is complex and multifaceted. It requires custody nurses to assess a detainee's medical, mental health, educational and social history, as well as any substance misuse. It should include a mental state examination and, where appropriate, a physical examination. Fitness-to-interview decisions should be rigorous to prevent miscarriages of justice or significant harm to detainees. Custody nurses should advocate for detainees who are mentally vulnerable and ensure appropriate safeguards are in place, where necessary. Further work is required to reduce the subjectivity of the fitness-to-interview assessment, along with increased investment in appropriate adult services. Equally, custody nurses working at this advanced level of practice require relevant postgraduate knowledge and skills.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10479


Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 04 March 2016

Accepted: 23 August 2016

Published online: 26 May 2017