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Preliminary findings on police custody delivery in England and Wales in the 21 st century: Is it ‘good’ enough? DR ANDREW WOOFF, DR LAYLA SKINNS, AMY SPRAWSON.

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Presentation on theme: "Preliminary findings on police custody delivery in England and Wales in the 21 st century: Is it ‘good’ enough? DR ANDREW WOOFF, DR LAYLA SKINNS, AMY SPRAWSON."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preliminary findings on police custody delivery in England and Wales in the 21 st century: Is it ‘good’ enough? DR ANDREW WOOFF, DR LAYLA SKINNS, AMY SPRAWSON CENTRE FOR CRIMINOLOGICAL RESEARCH, SCHOOL OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD

2 Good policing? 1. Reduces crime 2. Builds strong links with the community, reassures the public and provides a sense of security. 3. Just policing 4. Legitimate policing 5. Policing as a ‘public good’ (Bradford, Jackson and Hough, 2014; Bowling, 2007).

3 ‘Good enough’ policing?  No such thing as perfect policing:  Police officers make mistakes  The nature of the police role heightens the chances of mistakes being made.  This has serious consequences for the life and liberty of citizens.  Notion of ‘good enough’ policing useful:  Starting point for change  Does not mean accepting imperfections ( Bowling, 2007)

4 ‘Good’ police custody? 1. Reducing crime – not as relevant for police custody as for the police institution. 2. Building strong links with the community relevant to police custody, but building reassurance and a sense of security less so. 3. Just policing – for whom is police custody ‘good’? Who are the ‘winners’ and losers’? 4. Legitimate policing – highly relevant to police custody 5. Policing as a ‘public good’ – highly relevant to the pluralised police custody landscape.


6 Aims of the ‘good’ police custody (GPCS) 1. Describe and appraise variations in police custody arrangements across the UK. 2. Identify the key dimensions of police custody areas in operation (e.g. occupational culture(s), power, fairness, justice, emotions and relationships, cost, governance and accountability). 3. Explore how police custody arrangements such as civilianisation and privatisation impact on these key dimensions of police custody. 4. Conceptualise and theorise the dimensions of 'good' police custody and the links between them, and examine the implications for 'good' policing. 5. Develop benchmarks and a survey tool to monitor and improve police custody facilities, complementing the inspections conducted by HMIP/HMIC.

7 Key dimensions of police custody 1. Police custody workers 2. The conditions of custody 3. Discretion 4. Occupational culture(s) 5. Power and suspect compliance 6. Access to justice and fairness 7. Emotions and relationships 8. Governance and accountability

8 Methodology  Mixed-method study  Flexible use of theory  Appreciative inquiry (AI)  AI as a counter to the ‘problem-orientated’ inquiry method  AI explores what it good, when organisations and people are ‘at their best’ or ‘most effective’  Originates from Cooperrider and Srivastva’s (1987) Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life’ Adaptive theory

9 Progress to date: data collection PhaseType of data collectionData collected to date 1 – September 2013- February 2014 Coding of HMIP/HMIC inspection reports 19 reports coded using 180 themes. Survey of custody managers Response from 40 of 43 forces (93%), capturing data from 213 of a possible 222 police custody suites. 2 – March 2014- June 2015 Site 1 – Combiville 18 June – 26 July 2014 140 hours of participant observation; 15 Interviews with suspects; 14 formal interviews with staff; Data collected from 100 custody records, with more to be collected in the autumn of 2014. No data collected on cost as yet. Site 2 – Stone Street 18 June – 5 July and 11-19 August 2014 129 hours of participant observation 11 interviews with suspects; 12 interviews with staff; Data collected from 68 custody records No data collected on cost yet. Site 3 - Newtown 1-14 September 2014 and further dates to come in the autumn 123 hours of participant observation; 13 Interviews with suspects; 13 interviews with staff; No data collected from custody records yet; No data collected on cost yet. Site 4 – Mill City 13 October 2014 Access granted, but data-sharing agreement still to be negotiated.

10 The police custody suite typology TypeExampleOwned, managed and staffed by who? BusynessOther features 1. The hard-pressed public suite Mill CityPublic - Owned, managed and staffed by the police ‘Busiest’ (1: 310) 2. The hard-pressed persevering public suite Stone StreetPublic - Owned, managed and staffed by the police ‘Busiest’ (1: 325)Described as unfit for purpose 3. The unhurried hybrid CombivilleHybrid - Owned by the private sector through a PFI, managed by the police and non- warranted civilians employed by the private sector ‘Least busy’ (1: 239)Staff and facilities are shared with a neighbouring force. It has a ‘police investigation centre’ attached. 4. The hardworking hybrid CombicityHybrid - Owned by the private sector through a PFI, managed by the police and non- warranted civilians are employed by the police and the private sector ‘Middling busy’ (1: 303) 5. The private super suite NewtownPrivate - Owned, managed and staffed almost entirely by the private sector. ‘Busiest’ (1: 383)

11 Governance and discretionary decisions in police custody  Expected discretion to be curtailed in police custody due to amount of governance:  Legal  PACE  ECHR and HRA  The UN OPCAT → HMIC/HMIP inspections  Organisational  Police policies e.g. Authorised Professional Practice  Internal disciplinary procedures and the IPCC  Other CJ practitioners → ‘relational governance’  Information technology  Audio-recording and now video-recording of police interviews  CCTV

12 Types of discretionary decisions in custody: Bail conditions I speak to the Sarge about a discussion he has had with the other sarge relating to bail conditions in the staff room. They came to a joint decision regarding two co- defendants. The Sarge explains: ‘we can set just about any bail conditions we want’. I mean I had a colleague that got so sick of one beggar he bailed them with the condition that he did not sit down in a public place. The problem with that is, when they come back in for breach of bail, which they inevitably will, their detention clock starts ticking again and you don’t want a case to fail because of some stupid bail conditions’ [Fieldnotes, Stone Street, 25/06/14]

13 Types of d iscretionary decisions in police custody: children’s welfare A fifteen-year old is brought into custody on a Friday on a warrant relating to a breach of a court order (when he was 13). The Custody Officers (CO) keep saying that it was probably his mum that didn’t take him to court etc. He hasn’t been in trouble in nearly 2 years, hasn’t been in police custody in 2 years and if he were held in police custody he would have to stay all weekend until Monday/Tuesday until the next available session of the youth court. The COs are saying it’s not good to have someone so young in custody for such a long period and also that social services 9/10 times will say that they won’t take them. But the rules are black and white in this situation, so they say – as he’s been arrested the warrant has been activated and so they have to remand him so he can be taken to the next available court session. They can’t tell the officers to ‘undo’ the arrest on the quiet or to drop him off and pick him up later for it because they could lose their jobs for something like that. They look at every option so the young person does not end up in custody. They decide to release him to his mum’s house, on the basis that the police will pick him up on Monday/Tuesday to take him to court – this is better for his welfare. This was authorised by the Insp. who agrees with the CO’s reasoning. [Fieldnotes, Combiville, 28/06/14]

14 Factors influencing discretionary decision-making: Relationality So what’s happened is… I’ve been arrested and that’s when I was brought in. I actually know a lot of the custody staff and the desk sergeant and I’ve known them you know for years. I’ve known them all many years, I’m not proud of that, but it means they know lots about me...that I don’t kick off Andrew: It makes a difference to you does it? D: Well it does, absolutely, because I know them, like…I do this and I got bail. I shouldn't have got bail, I've been in lots of trouble. But they know, like…well I think it’s like anything else really, you’ve got to treat people with respect and they treat you with respect and I think that’s basically it. (Male detainee, Stone Street, SSDet2M)

15 Relationality  You do form a relationship at source and that’s not necessarily a bad thing either because where that helps in some cases is if someone’s coming in different to how you know them to be. There is a lass who’ve I’ve always got on really well actually, Tara they call her and she came in on one occasion, she came in a completely different person, a completely different person and that raised alarms bells for me straight away. To the extent I thought I’m not happy with her, I got her examined by Medacs and escalated up to the crisis team and she ended up getting sectioned just because of her attitude which was just bizarre compared to how I know her to be. So knowing people and been in custody sometimes does have a benefit. Plus the other thing it can do as well is sometimes they’ll come in all hyper and on a high, or they could potentially be high maintenance, but you know them quite well and are able to bring them down. It can save you or your police officers quite a lot of work (PS, Stone Street)

16 Factors influencing discretionary decision-making: The demeanour of the detainee Andrew: Does the way that someone behaves in custody impact on [when you use] discretion? Custody Sergeant: Oh yeah I think its human nature. If someone’s giving me a hard time or trying to give me a hard time, or is a dickhead, then I wouldn’t say that I charge or remand people that shouldn’t be, but whereas if they come across with the right attitude I might be more willing to give them the benefit, I’m less likely to do that, I’m going to do what should be done. So I’m not remanding people that don’t need remanding, its whether or not we say ‘well he hasn’t done anything for a while, he’s been alright this time he’s been cooperative shall we give him a chance?’ (Male, Custody Officer, Stone Street, SSCS4M).

17 Factors influencing discretionary decision-making: police policies I have an interesting conversation with the custody sergeant about the use of discretion in his role. He tells me he has virtually none because the force have specific policies in place for setting bail conditions. He then shows me a leaflet given to staff which stipulates the bail conditions for anyone caught shoplifting in [name of town] – they get an automatic bail condition banning them from the town centre. He tells me about a first-time shop- lifter who was in yesterday who had a dog which was taken to the dog pound in the centre of the town. When he was released with the bail condition not to enter the town centre, he would have had to have breached this order to get his dog back. The main methadone dispenser is also within the banned area, meaning that the number of people arrested for breach of bail have increased because the discretion of the sergeant to attach specific bail conditions has been removed. (Field diary, Newtown, 02/09/14).

18 Factors influencing discretionary decision-making: the institutionalisation of risk  You cover your arse a lot but there’s a lot you can do to mitigate that. If you do things as correctly and as properly as you can within the guidelines that we have got … you shouldn’t have to cover your arse but it feels like arse covering all the time (Male Custody Officer, Combiville, CVCS2M)  If someone was medically unwell you might think we don’t really want them in custody, you’ve nicked a mars bar out of Sainsbury’s, are you realistically going to go to prison tomorrow because of that? No. Also, you’re ill, is the cell the right place for you? Is it in the public’s interest to keep you overnight and at large expense feed and water you all night? Or can we bail you out to go to court of your of your own accord in a couple of weeks? (Male Custody Officer, Combiville, CVCS5M)

19 Concluding thoughts

20 Key findings: conditions of police custody  The three custody suites researched so far in Phase 2 vary considerably in how they look and feel:  The newer PFI sites of Combiville and Newtown are light, airy and spacious, compared to the dingier, dirtier and more confined conditions of Stone Street.  These findings are consistent with the types of police custody suites identified in Phase 1. Stone Street was one of a small number identified as being unfit for purpose and was chosen because of this: to understand the ‘good’, it was necessary to also understand the ‘bad’.

21 Key findings: discretion  In spite of growing regulatory mechanisms, discretionary decisions remain available to staff e.g. in relation to bail conditions, detainee welfare, the placing of detainees in cells and children’s welfare.  A wide range of factors appear to impinge on these decisions including social factors (e.g. detainees’ demeanour), administrative rules (police policies) and the importance attached to risk.  The legal framework of these decisions is also important though, as yet, has not been fully explored in the analysis.

22 Good enough police custody?  Building strong links with the community?  Legitimate police custody?  Just policing?  Discretion not necessarily curtailed.

23 Implications  Discretion – essential, but has to be used sparingly but effectively in ways that recognise the pressures on staff and detainees, but also their needs as human beings.  Purpose of police custody? What is it for?  Does police custody needs to be more than mere humane containment?  Speed and efficiency?  One stop shop  Place of learning about place in society  Link back to conceptualisation of ‘good’ policing at start.

24 Any Questions? Contact details:   @ajwooff  @policecustody 

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