SURPRISE inspections found “inadequately repaired” cell walls at Shrewsbury Police Station, including filler that could be picked out by hand and eaten or used to self-harm, a report says.

There are 54 “independent custody visitors” in West Mercia, working voluntarily for the area’s police and crime commissioner (PCC).

The ICV Scheme Report, which was published this month, summarises visits the volunteers paid to custody wings in Hereford, Kidderminster, Shrewsbury, Telford and Worcester throughout 2019. It says the cell maintenance problem has been raised with West Mercia Police.

The document also says “early discussions” have taken place about establishing a new suite “between Telford and Shrewsbury”, but “there are currently no firm plans”.

In his foreword to the report, which covers January to December, PCC Mr Campion writes that the area’s  ICVs range in age from 18 to 88, and “fulfil a crucial role in providing reassurance to communities about how police are handling people under detention” by paying unannounced visits custody suites.

The report itself says: “ICVs from the Shropshire panel raised concerns about the condition of several cells at Shrewsbury police station.

“The walls of some cells are cracking, and the repairs that have been made appear inadequate. The filler used can be picked out and ingested or used to self-harm.

“This has been raised with the force and will be actioned by the force’s building contractors.”

There are five custody suites housed in the force area’s main police stations. Worcester’s facility has 22 active cells, the report says, while Hereford and Shrewsbury both have 16. Malinsgate, in Telford town centre, has 15 and Kidderminster has 11.

“There are early discussions around a new custody unit for the northern part of the force, which would provide a custody unit between Telford and Shrewsbury, though there are currently no firm plans,” the report says.

In a podcast, produced by the PCC’s office, Mr Campion talks to ICV Scheme Administrator Phil Compton about the role.

“Custody suites, without ICVs, would be a hidden area of policing that would be excluded from public view,” Mr Compton said.

“Unless you happen to be arrested yourself, or are a solicitor or a police officer, this really is a hidden area of policing, so ICVs are providing accountability and monitoring of police custody suites.

“They’re trying to make sure custody suites within our force area are safe and dignified places to be held.”