Police custody nurses are proving to be more efficient and more popular than traditional forensic medical examiners, suggests research by Wolverhampton University.
There has a trend for police authorities to support forensic examiners, usually local GPs, with custody nurses but little research has looked at the results.
Study authors evaluated a specialist nurse service in the north of England, comparing its performance over six months with the traditional medical service.
The authors said: 'Nurses demonstrated faster response times, comparable consultation times, and were perceived by custody staff as more approachable than their medical colleagues in providing handover information.
'Nurses can assist forensic medical examiners by screening the need for a doctor to be called out to a police station, and could help prioritise the clinical needs of detainees,' they added.
But the authors warned that tensions could result from nurses being seen as a 'cheap' substitute for doctors.
Journal of Advanced Nursing (2007) 60: 127-134