“We are a Low Secure Unit, seeking advice from other services who conduct random searches upon patient who return from unescorted leave.
  1. How and what methods do you use to ensure that searches are random?
  1. What are the pros and cons?
  1. Have you noticed an increase or decrease in contraband coming onto your wards?”
At the Newsam Centre we use an electronic randomiser button that all SUs press when returning from leave. Pros – random, SUs know that they could be searched, fair. Cons – still restrictive, could mean someone still brings contraband onto the ward. Overall, I think the rate of contraband being brought onto the ward has decreased as everyone is randomly searched meaning no one is targeted/ pressured to bring something onto the ward. Newsam Centre
We did operate random searches before our CQC inspection, though were informed that there was no such thing as random, and therefore all searches must be based on suspicion of illicit activity and documented as such. All SU’s must have a care plan which reflects the units search policy, and searches are only conducted if we have cause. We do not have random searches; we have searches based on evidence or suspicion. Though if we have suspicion before a leave takes place then we would change the leave to being escorted. So really it is only if someone sees something or reports something during the SU’s leave, at that time we would complete a person search. Pros, more leaves as the process is now shorter and less staff intensive. Cons, I’m sure things are brought to the ward which shouldn’t be. We have not seen a change in the amount of contraband on the ward, though we do complete ward searches more frequently than before. I am sure things do get missed as SU’s know that our searches are infrequent, but we have also worked hard on restrictive practices, so what used to be contraband such as tobacco, lighters, and vapes, are now able to be kept on a Service Users person. Moorlands View
To ensure our searches are random of patients returning from unescorted leave, we have the named nurse of the patient take the lead, as well as reviewing the care plan they go through and plan the searches and if any random alcohol or drug tests are needed into the ward diary. This enables them to ensure they are random. We also have a log of each time the searches or drug and alcohol tests are completed and if there was any issue, this then acts as evidence when updating the ministry etc if there isn’t an issue, we always reinforce this point to the patient when conducting the searches too, and generally we have found they want to do well and prove this.  they also understand the consequences should they be found with anything they shouldn’t have. (e.g. Leave review etc) We have had no issue up to press of any contraband items being brought into the unit. Amber Lodge