Women and children detainees awaiting trial were found to be held too closely to men during an initial wave of inspections of custody suites in courts in the north east, a report has said today.
According to HM Inspectorate of Prisons, there was "widespread confusion" about the separation of men, women and juveniles.
In some courts the report also found that pregnant women had to sit on hard benches for several hours and that there was limited provision for those with disabilities.
The HMIP report covered four Crown Courts and 12 magistrates' courts in Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria under a new programme of inspections of court custody. Custody operations are contracted out.
– Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons
"Improvements to buildings will require capital spends, but there is much that can be done to improve matters in the short term, especially if court managers focus on the custody suites as an integral part of their role in running the courts."
An inspection of cells at North East courts has found some detainees are being kept in 'deplorable' conditions.
The criticism follows an official inspections of custody facilities at magistrates and crown courts.
The report singled out Newcastle magistrates court as having problems with rot, damp and graffiti in cells.
Sunderland magistrates and Newcastle's two Crown Court buildings were also cricised for poor conditions in their cells.
The Courts and Tribunals Service says a programme of improvement works will be complete by the end of the financial year.