Welsh Police Accused of Brutality; HUMAN RIGHTS: European Committee for Prevention of Torture Lists Accusations against Officers Suspects Punched and Kicked in Custody Access to Legal Advice Denied Detainees Kept in Filthy Cells Bruises Ignored by Magistrates

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Byline: TOBY MASON Welsh Affairs Editor

A DAMNING independent report released last night accuses police in Wales of assaulting suspects, making them stay in dirty police cells and failing to allow them access to lawyers.

The report, by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), says:

Welsh inmates claimed police had delayed or obstructed their attempts to get legal advice;

Some inmates claimed that visible bruises were ignored by magistrates during court appearances;

Welsh officers were singled out for censure after inspectors heard claims of police assault against prisoners.

The report concludes there is a "noticeable gulf in standards" between England and Wales.

In its response to the report the Government admits that police detention facilities in Wales are "not up to the desired standard in all cases".

The report, by a panel of international experts, also makes the serious allegation that in some cases police are preventing suspects getting access to legal advice, contrary to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

It says, "A number of young detained persons in Wales alleged that there had been delays in granting them access to a lawyer; some indicated that police officers had refused their request for a lawyer outright or had obstructed their lawyers' attempts to contact them.

"The CPT recommends that steps be taken to ensure that the provisions of the above-mentioned Code of Practice concerning the right of access to a lawyer are being rigorously applied in practice in Wales."

The inspectors, who visited various parts of the UK last year in compiling their report, found significant variations in prisoners' responses.

They say that in the prison establishments visited in or around London they heard no allegations of ill-treatment by the police, but by contrast "a number of young persons interviewed separately at both Parc Prison (Bridgend) and Hillside Secure Centre (Neath) alleged that they had been ill-treated by police officers in different parts of Wales". …