CHIEF Constable Julie Spence has said DNA samples left next to a half-eaten takeaway meal in a fridge at a Cambridgeshire police station was sloppy procedure .

Mrs Spence s comments come in her latest podcast, the first since a damning inspection into th

CHIEF Constable Julie Spence has said DNA samples left next to a half-eaten takeaway meal in a fridge at a Cambridgeshire police station was "sloppy procedure".

Mrs Spence's comments come in her latest podcast, the first since a damning inspection into the county's custody suites.

She said: "The DNA samples were redundant. They were never going to be needed in any prosecution.

"Leaving them in the fridge instead of throwing them away was, as we put it, sloppy procedure. But it would not have impacted on any criminal justice process had that been necessary."

Mrs Spence added: "All the samples that we take were and are sealed in tubes and bags with proper evidential markings on them. There is absolutely no way they could or would be contaminated by any food, sandwiches or takeaways or anything else."

She admitted that the report did not make for pretty reading, and said "I'm not about to make any excuses".

The inspection took place nine months ago when much of the work needed to improve the custody suites was already in hand. All of the recommendations in the report have since been put in place.

Senior managers regularly visit cell blocks, Mrs Spence said, but "we also make mistakes, show a lack of judgement, misdiagnose a situation - or sometimes do things which are just plain daft".

She added: "Most of the time we manage to work out for ourselves where we are going wrong and work hard to correct it. Sometimes we need professionals with a keen eye to spot the obvious when we don't - and tell us about it."

INFORMATION: Anyone concerned about the county's custody suites can apply to become an independent custody visitor by writing to: Hinchingbrooke Park, Huntingdon, PE29 6NP or e-mailing: police.authority@cambs.pnn.police.uk