SUMMARY: Police custody is a complex area of policing which requires Police Scotland to carefully balance the risks associated with detainees, the new localism agenda and making efficiency savings. With the move to a national Custody Division as part of Police Scotland now beginning to mature, it is an important time to assess how variation in custody practices impacts on police staff and on detainees. This pilot study used qualitative methods to investigate the challenges around risk and efficiency in two separate police custody environments – one rural and one urban. The study found that staffing, healthcare, the Police Scotland custody estate and trust are key for understanding how risks can be minimised and efficiency maximised. The study identified a series of recommendations which if implemented would help improve police custody in Scotland. The study also identifies a series of gaps in the systematic knowledge base which, if addressed, would assist in developing and supporting the recommendations we have identified.