Chair: Layla Skinns

Perspectives on police detention in England and Wales

Building: E
Room: 01


Author: Wooff Andrew, Edinburgh Napier University

Layla Skinns, University of Sheffield
Title: The Conditions of Police Custody and the Importance of ‘Good’
Police custody is a complex environment, where police officers, detainees and other staff interact in a number of different emotional, spatial and transformative ways. Utilising ethnographic and interview data collected in 2014 and 2015 as part of a five-year ESRC-funded study which aims to rigorously examine ‘good’ police custody, this paper analyses the ways that liminality and temporality impact on emotion in police custody. No work, however, has examined the links between temporality, liminality and emotional performativity in a police custody context. In this environment, power dynamics are linked to past experiences of the police, with emotions being intrinsically embodied, relational, liminal and temporal. Emotion management is therefore an important way of conceptualising the dynamic relationships in custody. Architectural design also has a role to play, particularly relating to social control, with literature linking the built environment with people’s emotional ‘readings’ of space. This paper concludes by arguing that emotional aftershocks symbolise the liminal experience of detainees’ understanding of the police custody process once released, noting that it is important to understand the microscale, lived experience of police custody in order to develop an understanding of broader social and policing policy in a police custody context.
Keywords: police custody, conditions, liminality, temporality, emotions
Author: Skinns Layla, University of Sheffield

Angela Sorsby, University of Sheffield
Title: Making a Difference to Detainees: Predictors of the Quality of Detainee Treatment
This paper draws on a five-year ESRC-funded study of ‘good’ police custody. Preliminary factor analysis of survey data collected from nearly 800 staff and detainees in 27 custody facilities in 13 police forces in England and Wales in 2016 and 2017 showed that the quality of a detainees’ treatment was important to the detainee experience, in particular whether they felt treated with kindness by staff, which was also correlated with detainees’ overall sense of satisfaction with their detention. It is presumed therefore that this quality of treatment factor is central to understanding how to make a difference to detainees and to conceptualizing the meaning of ‘good’ inside police detention. Using multi-level modelling of the data collected from detainees, in this paper we examine the factors that best predicted whether detainees scored highly with regards the quality of their treatment. These predictor variables include socio-demographic factors, detainee perceptions of the conditions of custody, their emotional state, fairness and the way staff used their authority, accountability mechanisms, the culture of police custody, the roles and value of different staff who work in custody and of risk, as well as suite-level factors such as busyness. This paper concludes by examining the implications for ‘good’ police custody.
Keywords: police custody, quality of treatment, power, fairness
Author: Sorsby Angela, University of Sheffield

Layla Skinns, University of Sheffield
Title: Meeting Expectations? an Examination of Mismatches in Police-Detainee Perceptions of Police Detention
This paper draws on a five-year ESRC-funded study of ‘good’ police custody. Preliminary analysis of survey data collected from nearly 800 staff and detainees in 27 custody facilities in 13 police forces in England and Wales in 2016 and 2017 showed mismatches in staff and detainee perceptions of police detention which may be central to improving the quality of police detention and to conceptualizing the meaning of ‘good’ custody. For example, with regards perceptions of police authority and fairness, staff emphasised the importance of legality (i.e. whether or not the police abide by legal rules), whilst detainees emphasised the importance of the quality of their treatment, particularly whether they felt treated with kindness by staff. This may be partly due to police socialisation whilst in training and on the job, leading to notions of legality becoming embedded in police cultures. It is also likely rooted in police officer perceptions of the risk of someone dying ‘on their watch’ custody, which encourages a retreat into doing things by the book. This paper will further examine these mismatches with regards staff and detainees’ perceptions of police detention, as well as examining the implications for ‘good’ police custody.
Keywords: police custody, quality of treatment, legality, kindness
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