Co-operation or Contest? Inter-Agency Relationships in Police Custody Areas, 2007


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This is a mixed methods data collection. Since the 1980s, police custody areas have become multi-professional contexts involving solicitors, 'appropriate adults', forensic medical examiners and drug workers. Increasingly, they also involve members of the extended police 'family', i.e. civilians appointed as detention officers and custody officers and employed either by the police or private security companies. Previous research has shown that multi-professional partnerships can involve a mixture of co-operation and contest due to different occupational cultures, working practices, organisational priorities and levels of power and status. Therefore the aim of this research was to examine how these various police custody workers co-operate with each other, and the impact (if any) on detainees' access to the services they require and their experiences of police custody. In addition, the research examined how the police custody process has been affected, if at all, by civilianisation and privatisation and the implications for governance and accountability. The research compared two police custody areas, with similar levels of throughput (c.12,000 custody episodes per year); one site, in a London borough, was predominantly publicly run, and the other, in a city in the South-East of England, was predominantly privatised. Further information on methodology can be found in the study user guide. The dataset comprises 22 interviews with detainees and 28 interviews with staff, across the two research sites. The quantitative file comprises custody record data for 883 cases during the research period, across the two sites. Users should note that, while the qualitative interview transcripts are available to registered users, the quantitative custody record data file included in this study is currently subject to conditional access, in that it requires agreement from the depositor before individual access is granted. Please contact the HelpDesk for further details. Further information about the project can be found on the ESRC project award page.

Main Topics:

Staff interviews: Role in organisation, length of employment and previous roles, contact with custody areas, inter-agency relationships and co-operation, role of civilian staff, impact of civilianisation and pluralisation, governance and accountability. Detainee interviews: Nature of arrest and custody episode, experiences in custody, rights, inter-agency involvement and satisfaction with service provision, solicitors, police, civilian staff, satisfaction with police custody environment, overall satisfaction, demographics. Custody record data: Demographics, offences, waiting times, length of custody, checks, contact with police, medical staff and solicitors, and other details.

Case studies

Face-to-face interview

Telephone interview

Compilation or synthesis of existing material

Semi-structured interview transcripts; quantitative data collected from police custody records

Metadata Access
Creator Skinns, L., University of Cambridge, Darwin College
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2009
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Copyright L.Skinns; <p>The Data Collection is available to UK Data Service registered users subject to the <a href="" target="_blank">End User Licence Agreement</a>.</p>
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Numeric; Semi-structured interview transcripts; quantitative data
Discipline Jurisprudence; Law; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage Greater London; South East England; England