Ten years for Tayside’s pioneering custody services

The 24-hour custody healthcare and forensic medical service, piloted in Dundee and Perth in 2009, became standard practice across Scotland in 2014

Monday 15th April 2019

Crisis intervention, addiction management and support, and chronic disease management are among the duties of the nursing staff delivering Tayside’s custody healthcare and forensic medical service today.

First piloted in 2009 in two police custody suites in Perth and Dundee, the service introduced new ways of providing healthcare for people in custody, providing 24-hour access every day of the week.

In partnership with Police Scotland, Tayside Police Division and the University of Dundee, NHS Tayside’s nurse-led service was rolled out to all NHS boards across Scotland in 2014.

Offering dry blood spot testing for blood borne viruses to people in custody is one of the new initiatives introduced over the past twelve months.

People in police custody in Dundee are now also routinely offered nicotine replacement therapy – a service soon to be rolled out across the Tayside region – and nurses have been trained to deliver forensic services and support to clinicians with forensic examinations of children and adults.

Celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the service, the Custody Inspector for Tayside, Marc Lorente, said: “The nurses covering the custody areas are excellent at what they do and work well with custody staff, ensuring that those who unfortunately find themselves in custody, often with complex needs, are looked after as best we can.

Working together we have also been one of the first areas in Scotland to implement nicotine patches and tests for Blood Borne Viruses to prevent the spread of infection and signpost those to receive the correct support.”

As part of the extension, the sexual assault referral network now operates a dedicated phoneline to support people who have been raped or sexually assaulted, allowing individuals to directly contact a Rape Crisis helpline worker who will offer initial support and contact to the forensic and custody nurses.

The head of out-of-hours, prison healthcare and forensic and custody healthcare services, Jillian Galloway, said: “The dedication and commitment of all of our staff has helped us to develop the service and improve the care provided to our patients.

We work in close partnership with other services within NHS Tayside, the local health and social care partnerships, Police Scotland and third sector agencies to develop our services and we will continue to work hard to ensure patients receive the care they need.”


Image: (back row l-r) – Police Scotland, Tayside Police Division Sergeant Graeme Elrick, forensic physician Dr Alfarah Kunwar, (front row l-r) senior charge nurse Sandie Thomas and Head of Service for Tayside Forensic and Custody Healthcare Services Angela Cunningham