PhD Blog – How can we make sense of the experiences of a growing number of Eastern European women in English prisons?

1448056554235This new contribution to the PhG guest blog is from Magdalena Tomaszewska. Magdalena is a second-year PhD candidate at the University of Surrey. Her PhD explores the treatment and experiences of female Eastern European prisoners in England and Wales (particularly those from the A8 and A2 accession countries to the EU). Working across 3 prisons in England and a third sector organisation providing support for female foreign national prisoners, she examines the lived realities of incarceration for these women, taking into account their socio-cultural backgrounds, relationships with staff and other prisoners, and the effects of the penal policy shifts which have prioritised removal of ‘foreigners’.

This project builds on her Masters research which explored the experiences of female foreign national prisoners in one prison in the South East of England and has been awarded Howard League’s John Sunley prize. Magdalena’s broad research interests lie in the area exploring linkages between identity, imprisonment and immigration control, especially in the context of women’s imprisonment. Alongside her doctoral studies, she is working with the University College London and a user-led charity User Voice co-coordinating a large-scale trial testing the merits of mentalisation based treatment (MBT) for offenders diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).

Contact: m.tomaszewska@surrey.ac.uk


How can we make sense of the experiences of a growing number of Eastern European women in English prisons?

Anna, originally from the Czech Republic, came to the UK at the age of 10 and has lived here ever since. After committing a drug-related offence, she was sentenced to just over 3 years imprisonment. In addition to her custodial term she was also informed that she was going to be deported from the UK on the completion of her sentence, since, as it was explained to her, as a ‘foreign criminal’ she had ‘no right to remain in the UK’. She was released from HMP Peterborough earlier this year having successfully appealed her case.

Anna is one of a growing number of Eastern European women currently held in prisons throughout England and Wales. Since 2004, when 11 countries of the former Eastern Bloc[1] joined the European Union, the number of female prisoners originating from these countries has risen dramatically (even though the overall proportion of foreign nationals in the female estate has remained at a 11%) (MoJ, 2016). Today, within a population which counts nearly 80 countries, every third inmate comes from Eastern Europe, with Poland and Romania as the top two. Overall however, these women have remained invisible, apart from a handful of third sector accounts which emphasize their vulnerability to exploitation through trafficking (e.g. Prison Reform Trust, 2012), or press reports which lump them together with men, portraying them under the label of ‘dangerous Eastern European criminals’[2], and with it fuelling the demands for more streamlined deportations.[3]

Both of these perspectives are problematic. For one, given the difficulty in identifying victims of trafficking via the National Referral Mechanism it is tricky to assess how big a problem trafficking is amongst the incarcerated East European women (Gelsthorpe and Hales, 2012). It would be difficult to deduce that from the nature of offences which predominantly land them in prison, which PRT (2012) reports as theft and handling or drugs offences. At the same time, violent offences among this population are lower than for their British counterparts. Majority serve their first and only prison sentences, with a ‘very low’ risk of reoffending. In this sense, there is also little to support the argument that these women are especially dangerous.

These discussions however divert attention away from the changes that have already taken root in the female prison system. When Anna arrived at HMP Bronzefield in 2013, it had been 5 years since the UK Borders Act 2007 came into power, requiring all EEA nationals sentenced to more than 2 years imprisonment to be – in line with section 32 (5) of the Act – mandatorily deported from the UK[4]. This, as Kaufman (2012) has shown, was further accompanied by broader logistical arrangements between the Prison Service and the Home Office under the ‘hubs and spokes’ agreement, whereby non-citizens (especially those under deportation orders) are to be concentrated in specific foreign national ‘hub’ prisons which are furnished with full time immigration staff who are to facilitate a more efficient deportation process.

In 2013, on the recommendation of the NOMS Women’s Custodial Estate Review (2013), this system was adopted in the female estate. As the report advised, a female foreign national hub was to be created at HMP Peterborough, ‘taking into account best practice from the male hub and spoke system’ (p.6). Much like in the male estate then, the female prison system took it upon itself to systematically identify and segregate women who ‘do not belong in the UK’.

In my research I explore the experiences of currently the largest regional group within the female foreign prison population – Eastern European women – who ‘do time’ under these conditions. Taking inspiration from the scholarship which looks to questions about identity at the intersection of gender, race, and class to cast light on the prison as a space ‘permeated’ by broader social inequalities (e.g. Phillips and Earle, 2011; Bosworth and Kaufman, 2012), I am interviewing currently and formerly incarcerated Eastern European women as well as a range of practitioners working with them (prison officers, legal case workers), documenting accounts like that of Anna, who shortly before being transferred to HMP Peterborough was told by one prisoner that this was a place where “all you Russian prostitutes go to”, and where she could, according to one prison officer, “find the support of those with the same “culture”. Politics of identity, as Kaufman (2012, p. 18) observes, ‘are central to the practice of punishment’.

Stories such as Anna’s can offer new insights into this work, especially when it comes to documenting the relationship between imprisonment and nationality. Authors such as Emma Kaufman and Mary Bosworth have led this effort, developing illuminating accounts on how the practice of deportation and treatment of many non-citizens caught up in it (especially those originating from former British colonies) implicates the British prison in the exercise of ‘collective [postcolonial] amnesia’. The positioning of East European prisoners like Anna clearly doesn’t fit this frame. Instead, it seems to speak to anxieties about more recent, ‘suspect white’ migrants from poorer parts of Europe, who, although conform to racialized understandings of what it means to be European, are subject to gendered, classed and racialized framing as ‘other’, based on language and cultural difference (Bhui, 2016).

Thinking more broadly about the emerging themes, many important changes are currently taking place in the arena of British immigration policy. As the fieldwork for this project gathers pace, the British government is set to start the process of taking the UK out of the European Union. Although it seems that for now, the topic of foreign national prisoners as well as the specifics of immigration policy where it crosses paths with the prison system remain lower down the list of negotiation priorities for Theresa May, it is yet to be seen what effect Brexit will have on the carceral lives of the growing ranks of female prisoners from Eastern Europe (as well as those from wider EU) held in British penitentiary institutions. For Anna, one thing was clear: “Learn to live with uncertainty”.

References

Bhui, H. (2016), ‘Place of Race in understanding immigration control and the detention of foreign nationals’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 16 (3), pp. 267 – 285.

Bosworth, M. and Kaufman, E. (2012), ‘Gender and Punishment’, in Simon, J. and Sparks, R. (eds.) Handbook of Punishment and Society, London: Sage.

Gelsthorpe, L. and Hales, L. (2012), ‘Criminalisation of Migrant Women’, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK, available at: http://www.crim.cam.ac.uk/people/academic_research/loraine_gelsthorpe/criminalreport29july12.pdf.

Kaufman, E. (2012), ‘Finding Foreigners: Race and the Politics of Memory in British Prisons’, Population, Space and Place, 18 (6), pp. 701 – 714.

Ministry of Justice (2016), Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2016, London Ministry of Justice.

National Offender Management Service (2013), Women’s Custodial Estate Review, available at: http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/adult-offenders/nationaloffendermanagementservice/155762womens-custodial-estate-review.pdf.

Phillips, C. and Earle, R. (2011), ‘Cultural diversity, ethnicity and race relations in prison’ in Crewe, B. and Bennett, J. (eds.) The Prisoner, London: Routledge.

Prison Reform Trust (2012), ‘No way out: A briefing paper on foreign national women in prison in England and Wales’, (online), available at: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/portals/0/documents/nowayout.pdf.

Footnotes

[1] The 2004 A8 accession countries include: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia. The 2007 A2 accession countries include: Bulgaria and Romania. In 2013 Croatia also joined the EU.

[2] See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2614279/Poland-tops-league-foreign-inmates-UK-jails-ahead-Ireland-Jamaica.html.

[3] See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3622924/EU-killers-rapists-ve-failed-deport-UK-s-inability-expel-thousands-foreign-criminals-undermines-case-EU-say-MPs.html, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2291020/more-than-130-polish-criminals-jailed-in-the-uk-should-have-been-deported-in-past-four-years-bungling-officials-admit/, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-referendum-more-than-13000-foreign-criminals-awaiting-deportation-from-uk-a7063026.html.

[4] This rule also applies to all non-EEA nationals sentenced to more than 1 year in prison.

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PG BLOG -When does secondary victimisation stop? An argument for accountability

nicola-redgraveThis contribution to the BSC postgraduate Blog is from Nicola Redgrave. Nicola is a new postgraduate student who will resuming her studies in September. Her blog piece marries together her experience assisting victims of crime within the criminal justice system as a volunteer for victim support and the focus of her Masters dissertation; victims and repeat victimisation from the processes of the criminal justice system.  Want to hear more about this topic? contact Nicola here:

n.redgrave15@gmail.com @nikki_redgrave


Police and court procedures have been consistently scrutinised over the years as to the way in which victims are treated whilst working to secure a conviction. However, it is the failures of various agencies on the release of serious offenders which I will consider and the concept of tertiary victimisation in this context, which is quite evidently under-researched within criminological discourse.
The idea of tertiary victimisation does appear to be discussed more commonly in contemporary discourse, however, this does tend to be in terms of the wider social network of the primary victim, such as in cases of homicide and acts of terrorism, the relatives of the victims’ thus becoming tertiary victims. In principle, the notion of tertiary victimisation should naturally link to the concept of secondary victimisation, given the consistent failures from various justice agencies beyond conviction and release of an offender.
Primarily, it is important to outline that within the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights all human beings have a right to life, liberty and security from the state, these are basic fundamental rights. However, it could be argued that once an offender has committed a crime and particularly a crime against another human being which, as a result infringes on their human rights, would thus mean an offender would then forego their human rights to an extent. Reinforced by the Justice for all 2002 white paper whereby it states that victims’ rights should be central, although it does indicate that there should be some level of fairness towards the offender also, and this is where the complications arise in terms of ensuring the rights of both the offender and the victim are honoured without conflict.
Of course, in the UK, we are fortunate to have access to charities such as Victim Support, who are able and are renowned for assisting with a wide range of issues in the immediate aftermath of an offence being committed, right up until and during trial. This does however provoke thought as to what happens beyond this point, when the offender is released from prison.
I volunteered for Victim Support for around 12 months at the end of my undergraduate degree, and noted that the assistance offered in the immediate aftermath was not offered once an offender was released, or due to be released. In fact, it then soon became apparent that there are not currently any services offered for this point of the justice process. Once the courts and police have gotten their conviction, a victim is thus surplus.
At present, the MOJ (2015) highlights that, victims of violent or serious sexual offences will be offered the inclusion in the victim contact scheme by the Probation Service and thus be able to have some influence to the conditions imposed on the offender on release from prison, such as; preventing an offender from contacting them, any family members or entering the area in which the victim resides. This has been a requirement of the Probation Service since 1995 according to D’Enno (2007) where the victim would be contacted only if the offender was imprisoned for over 4 years, this changed in 2001 to offenders sentenced to 12 months or more.
It is highlighted in a number of publications, white papers and reports through various agencies that the reintegration and reform of an offender is imperative to prevent reoffending, thus being the primary concern for the criminal justice system at the point of the offender’s release. Although it is indicated that involvement from the victim is also important it is clear that the rights of both the victim and the offender cannot be honoured without infringing on one or the other. Obviously, reform is paramount here, particularly in terms of preventing reoffending, however it is noted by Baird (2009) that victims are not treated fairly in this sense, she emphasises that for victims of sexual assault, the effect can indeed be long lasting and victims may need support to recover, and not just in the initial aftermath as the impact of the offence could resurface in many cases, years later. It could be expected that once an offender is released in cases of sexual assault and rape that this could indeed resurface the effects the crime bore on a victim, as a result victimising them yet again.
I bore witness to this during my time at Victim Support, whereby a victim contacted the police to ascertain whether an offender had been released from prison five years into an eleven-year sentence, she was told she had “no right to be told as [the offender] had served his time”. This demonstrates the clear lack of understanding from a police officer’s position of the rights and processes in terms of victims within the justice system, thus provoking further thought to how often this is the case when it comes to the rights of a victim being infringed in order to uphold the rights of the offender.
In this case, it is evident that not only was she failed by the police, but by the Probation Service also, as their legal requirement to contact the victim prior to release was not honoured, thus the offender was left to move into a house across the road from her mother and work in an area a short walk from her home, where he continued taunt her through the offences he committed.
Emphasising that due to the lack of agencies available to offer that support for victims on release of the offender, and the rights and resettlement of the offender being central, victims are thus being subject to tertiary victimisation. But, what can be done? Clearly the rights and needs of the victims at this stage in the justice process needs to be carefully considered and awareness within various agencies needs to be reaffirmed and understood as meticulously as the rights and needs of the offender. It is all very well systems being in place in the immediate aftermath of the offence being committed, however victims are being consistently let down and marginalised once the offender has been sentenced and from then on.

References

1. Baird, V. (2009) “Sustainable Support for Rape Victims” available from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/aug/12/rape-crisis-funding

2. CPS (2002) “Justice for all” Available from: https://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/jfawhitepaper.pdf

3. D’Enno, D. (2007) “Brighton Crime and Vice 1800-2000” Barnsley: Wharncliffe Books

4. MOJ (2015) “Code of Practice for Victims of Crime” Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/476900/code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime.PDF

5. United Nations (ND) “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Available from: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

6. Victim Support (ND) “Getting Help After a Crime” Available from: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk

PHD BLOG – COMPLEXITIES AND CHALLENGES IN RESEARCH WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Happy New Year from the BSC postgraduate committee! The first of our PhD blogs for 2017 is from Claire Paterson-Young. Claire is a PhD candidate a the University of Northampton in the Institute for Social innovation and Impact. Her research is focused on social impact measurement as a form of organisation performance management in enhancing the outcomes for young offenders.

me-1-1

Claire completed her undergraduate degree in Criminology and has a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She has worked as a Restorative Justice Practitioner and Youth Intensive Support Co-ordinator, which forded her the opportunity to develop her practical skills and knowledge in the criminal and youth justice field. This led in to her managing the Youth and Restorative Services within the Whole System Approach agenda. Here she led the Restorative Justice Workstream for developing and updating the Restorative Justice processes and procedures in Scotland. In addition, Claire was central in developing the organisations Safeguarding and Getting It Right For Every Child agenda.

 After relocating to England, Claire managed a specialised semi-independent provision for children and young people at risk of child sexual exploitation. Developing a special interest in child sexual exploitation, she moved to a Child Sexual Exploitation Coordinator role in the West Midlands. Claire currently lectures at the University of Northampton and University of Bedfordshire in Law and Youth Justice. She also delivers specialised Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Training nationally for a charity.

Contact: clcpaterson@gmail.com                             Twitter: @clcpaterson

The complexities and challenges in conducting research with children and young people in custody.

Youth crime and offending continues to receive considerable political, academic and media attention. The attention on young people in the United Kingdom is categorised by ‘respectable fears’, which Pearson (1983) described as the growing anxiety with regards to rebellious and threatening young people (Pearson, 1983). These ‘respectable fears’ have contributed to the expansion of the youth justice system and resulted in developments to mainstream youth justice services. The expansion and development of services in the financial climate has resulted in emphasis on developing effective and sustainable youth offending interventions in custody to reduce youth offending (Nevill and Lumley, 2011). Developing effective and sustainable interventions that enhance outcomes for children and young people have generally relied on output or outcome data, with limited importance placed on the wider long-term impact (such as employability, relationships, independence and emotional resilience). To understand impact, the views of children and young people are central; therefore, conducting research with focus on facilitating the active participation of children and young people in custody is important. Conducting research with children and young people is complex and challenging in any environment; however, in a custodial environment, the researcher will encounter further challenges. This post will explore the complexities and challenges of conducting research in this environment and the importance of experience in engaging children and young people.
Ethical questions are integral to any research, with particular importance in research with children and young people. The central ethical considerations for research cover: confidentiality and anonymity; voluntary informed consent; data protection and storage; and the safeguarding of participants. For conducting research with children and young people, such ethical considerations receive significant attention. However, another area that requires attention surrounds the researcher’s experience. Has the researcher worked with vulnerable children and young people? Does the researcher understand that relationships can develop in seconds? Does the researcher understand the impact of new people on the lives of participants? Exploring the researcher’s experience and knowledge of working with children and young people demonstrates the researcher’s experience and knowledge of the vulnerabilities of children and young people in this environment. Another area for consideration was the process for accessing a secure custodial environment for research purposes is challenging, particularly for research concerning the views of children and young people. Before entering a custodial environment, the researcher was required to complete training and a stringent vetting process and complete training. This process ensured the continued safety and security of children, young people and staff members.

Exploring the effectiveness and wider impact of services from the perception of children and young people are important for identifying “what works?” Collecting information on the perceptions of children and young people relies on the researcher developing appropriate data collection methods (e.g. interviews, questionnaire or observation). Before collecting data, the researcher must consider the power dynamics of conducting research with children and young people in custody. The researcher must ensure children and young people have a clear understanding of the research aims and objectives before consenting. To conduct research with children and young people, the researcher must consider the literacy age and level of understanding. This requires the researcher to understand the cohort of children and young people in the population to adapt the research material appropriately in order to ensure a clear understanding. Another issue the researcher must consider in conducting research with children and young people is the power dynamic. One method of addressing this power dynamic is by implementing child centred research methods based on the preferred communication methods of young people. Child-centred research methods may include the use of photographs, activities, diaries and worksheets (Barker and Weller, 2003). Considering child-centred research methods was important for research, however, recognising the age and position of young people participating in research was equally important. In conducting research with children and young people in custody, the researcher used traditional research methods (questionnaires, interviews and observation) with adjustments recognising the age and position of young people. This allowed the researcher to accurately capture the narratives of children and young people in custody.

Entering a custodial environment for the first time is daunting, but, entering a custodial environment with children and young people is an entirely different world.

References
1. Barker, J. and Weller, S. (2003) “Is it fun?” Developing children centred research methods. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 23(1/2), 33-58.
2. Hendrick, H., (2006) Histories of Youth Crime and Justice in Goldson, B. and Muncie, J. (2006) Youth Crime and Justice. London: Sage Publications.
3. Nevill, C. and Lumley, T. (2011) Impact measurement in the youth justice sector. [online] Available at: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/99904661/My%20Documents/Downloads/Youth-justice-measurement-FINAL2%20(2).pdf. Accessed on: 9 September 2015.
4. Pearson, G. (1983) Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears. London: Macmillan.

PhD Blog – The police and domestic abuse crime: positive steps but much more to be done

larissaThis weeks PhD Blog is from Larissa Povey, final-year PhD Candidate within the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research and Associate Lecturer in Criminal Justice at Sheffield Hallam University. Larissa’s PhD explores the impact of changes in UK criminal justice and welfare policies on the everyday lives of women at the social margins. Using a mixture of qualitative interviews, visual and ethnographic methods her study examines the lived experiences, perceptions and sense-making narratives of women who have been subject to multiple interventions from state agencies spanning both welfare and penal systems. Larissa hopes to make a contribution through using a feminist lens to explore the gendered character of social control and disciplining, texturing theoretical debates which often focus on men.

Larissa’s broad research interests lie in the areas of women and criminal justice, punishment beyond the prison, welfare policy, labour markets and social control.

PhD funding: Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship. This PhD is linked to the ESRC-funded “Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change” project (http://www.welfareconditionality.ac.uk/).

Contact: larissa.j.povey@student.shu.ac.uk

The police and domestic abuse crime: positive steps but much more to be done

As a PhD candidate researching women’s experiences of the criminal justice system and welfare reform, I was recently invited to take part in a Domestic Abuse Crime Scrutiny Panel for a national police agency. This got me thinking about the way we deal with this type of crime in England and Wales; alongside small steps in the right direction there are contradictory developments which thwart such advances, particularly broader shifts in social policy under austerity.

Based on efforts by the Crown Prosecution Service to show transparency and engage the local community in examining police work, the earlier scrutiny panels focused on hate crime; the first, piloted in West Yorkshire in 2004 focused specifically on race hate crime. The development of domestic abuse crime scrutiny panels followed and more recently we have seen panels focusing on cases of violence against women and girls.

Efforts such as these indicate that across the criminal justice system agencies are attempting to take domestic abuse (DA) crimes and violence against women and girls more seriously. Indeed, statistics from a recent Crown Prosecution Service report (2016: 1) show that it is “prosecuting and convicting more defendants of domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences and child sexual abuse than ever before”. Importantly, there has been an 11% rise in convictions for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) crimes, a trend that has been seen over the past three years. Prosecutions of this nature currently account for almost 20% of the Crown Prosecution Service’ total case load.

While new panels provide encouraging indicators that the police want to improve the way that they handle DA and VAWG crime, things are not entirely rosy. For example, the Home Office does not gather official statistics on the number of women and girls killed through domestic violence, a vast oversight. We do know the number of women killed by men in the UK because of the work of one individual Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of nia (a domestic violence charity) who began Counting Dead Women in 2012, her efforts are now supported by Women’s Aid and has developed into the Femicide Census to record all cases of ‘the murder of women because they are women’ (Women’s Aid, 2016). These efforts show a year on year increase in the number of women dying, averaging two women per week, at the hands of a partner, ex-partner or family member.

On the one hand we have the highest recorded reporting and prosecutions for DA and VAWG crimes. On the other, we have an increasing number of women dying from this type of crime. So what are some of the reasons that might be contributing to this? Since 2010, we have seen swinging cuts to services under austerity. This includes large cuts to women’s refuges resulting in the loss of 17% of specialist refuges and a third of referrals being turned away. Police guidelines outline refuges as a key intervention in the effective protection of victims, so with fewer refuges and places for vulnerable women and children it is a no brainer that this may have a detrimental effect on victims’ ability to get themselves to safety.

Though prosecutions are up, these cases reflect a small proportion of the overall number of incidences reported. And there are new ways of committing these offences as seen in the proliferation of online abuse specifically using social media as a tool for stalking, harassment and control. Policing these new mechanisms of abuse take investment and resources, there is much work to be done and things are likely to get worse as we see continued cuts to police budgets meaning fewer specialist police.

Other reforms such as changes to legal aid have been felt particularly acutely by women, who will have little recourse to free legal aid. According to this report such changes “raise disturbing questions about the state’s failure to protect women, especially those at risk of – and those who have already experienced – domestic violence” (Mayo and Koessl, 2015: 9).

There are deeper, enduring structural inequalities which place women in a position of less power in relation to men, this legacy can be seen in the persistence of devaluing of social reproductive work, the gender pay gap, gendered labour, maternity leave policy to name just a few. It is this power imbalance that creates a breeding ground for domestic abuse which is about power and control. These inequalities will be made worse by ongoing reforms to both in-work and out-of-work benefits. Upcoming reforms are likely to worsen the financial situation of vulnerable women, particularly lone parents. These factors explain some of the reasons behind the statistics and we may see further increases in DA and VAWG crimes and dead women.

#BSCConf16 Poster Round-up UPDATED

Here is a selection of the posters presented at the conference today. Well done to Sian Lewis, PhD student at Loughborough University who is researching sexual harrasment on the London transport network. Her fabulous poster won the postgraduate poster prize. Many congratulations Sian!


@sianlewis89


H.williamson2@brighton.ac.uk

 20160707_141110-01(1)

 
@MatczakAnia

Damian.terrill@coventry.ac.uk

K1250368@kingston.ac.uk

@Jessicae13Eaton

@HippoMoom

@jamie_ferrill

@RealJoePayne

@northern_wonder

@charrrr_xx


@NicolaAHarding
Pictures courtesy of Charlene Crossley @Charrrr_xx

Don’t see yours? Tweet me @NicolaAHarding or Email Nicola.harding@stu.mmu.ac.uk and I will update the post, we would love to see them!

BSC Talking Points – Jessica Eaton, victim blaming in sexual assault. 

Each month the BSC postgraduate community hold a talking points session on Facebook. Here we or a guest contributor pick a topic to discuss live on-line, in our facebook group, for an hour.

This months BSC TALKING POINT is brought to us by Jessica Eaton. She will be discussing victim blaming in sexual assault. Jessica is from Birmingham University and is in the first year of her Forensic Psychology PhD. Her research uses a mixed methods approach to explore the prevalence, impact and experience of victim blaming and self blame after rape and sexual assault of women using a national survey and a series of interviews with women after rape and sexual assault and with professionals from rape centres around UK. Jessica is also the national training manager for JustWhistle and Chairperson and Founder of The Eaton Foundation (first male mental health centre in the UK). 

Jessica has an interesting and informative blog http://www.victimfocus.wordpress.com and you can find her on twitter @Jessicae13Eaton. 

This months session is today (Monday 4th July) at 8-9pm on our facebook group. ‬ ‪#‎GetInvolved‬ #SeeYouThere

PhD Blog – Vulnerability in Police Custody: Implementing the Appropriate Adult Safeguard

This weeks contribution to the PhD blog is from Roxanna Dehaghani.

photo rox

Roxanna is a third year PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Leicester Law School, University of Leicester. She is also currently  a Visiting Scholar at the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. Roxanna’s research, funded by the University of Leicester, focuses on the implementation of the appropriate adult safeguard in police custody, namely how an adult suspect comes to be recognised as vulnerable. This includes an examination of how custody officers define and identify vulnerability. Roxanna’s research has involved qualitative research methods, namely non-participant observation in custody and semi-structured interviews with custody officers.

The following blog post gives a brief overview of one of the elements of Roxanna’s doctoral work. If you would like to contact her you can email her roxanna.dehaghani@le.ac.uk or tweet her @roxanna_law.

Vulnerability in Police Custody: Implementing the Appropriate Adult Safeguard

 Vulnerable suspects – that is those who are under 18, or above 18 and with a ‘mental disorder’ or ‘mental vulnerability’ – should be provided with an appropriate adult when in police custody (see Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)). See also Codes D and H). The appropriate adult safeguard is required to facilitate communication, support, assist and advise the suspect and ensure that the police are acting fairly (Code C 2014, para 11.17. See also Home Office Guide for Appropriate Adults 2011). In short, it is designed to protect the vulnerable suspect from providing false or misleading information – information that could lead to false conviction. However, as previous research has established, there are issues with its implementation in practice (Bean and Nemitz 1995; Bradley 2009; Brown, Ellis, and Larcombe 1992; Bucke and Brown 1997; Gudjonsson et al 1993; Irving and McKenzie, 1989; Medford, Gudjonsson and Pearse 2000; National Appropriate Adult Network 2015; Palmer and Hart 1996; Phillips and Brown 1998. See also Bradley 2009; Cummins 2007; McKinnon and Grubin 2010). In 2003, a study indicated that 600 vulnerable adults brought into custody within a month were not provided with an appropriate adult (Medford, Gudjonsson and Pearse 2003: 253). In relation to those with mental illness, an analysis of custody records in the East Midlands illustrated that an appropriate adult was only used in 38 instances (0.016%) rather than the estimated 14% (Bradley 2009: 43). The recent National Appropriate Adult Network report (2015: Paper A: 4) suggested that the issue is manifold – identification rates are low because of:

A lack of effective and systematic screening, a lack of training for the police, …no visual or behaviour clues…, the influence of alcohol or drugs complicating the assessment, a disregard of self-reporting, the failure to use historical information… to identify learning disabilities, [suspect reluctance to disclose], [the use of standardised questions].

Previous studies have, therefore, established that there are impediments to the identification of vulnerability and the implementation of the appropriate adult safeguard. On the whole they suggested that the issues lay with identification practices. Of course, failure to identify vulnerability or implement the appropriate adult safeguard may not necessarily lead to erroneous conviction – section 76 of PACE requires that the court exclude confessions which could be considered unreliable, and section 78 of PACE permits that the court exclude evidence where the fairness of the proceedings demand it. Early identification of vulnerability can, however, ensure that justice is delivered (or at least not delayed), thus protecting the integrity of the individual and the process. Considering that many cases fail to reach the courts due to the propensity with the English criminal justice system for plea-bargaining (see Criminal Justice Act (CJA 2003) 2003, s 144 (1)) and out-of-court disposals (CJA 2003 s 23) non-implementation has the potential for being costly as the failure to safeguard will remain undetected.

Identification is not the only factor in the implementation of the safeguard. For example, as Bean and Nemitz indicated, the issue lies not necessarily with how vulnerability is identified; rather it arises as a result of how custody officers make sense of the information provided to them (1995). The identification of vulnerability is subject to the custody officer’s construction of vulnerability (see Dehaghani, forthcoming). This construction may not necessarily marry with the Code C definition – it certainly did not align with my own interpretation of vulnerability. It is through unpacking and exploring how vulnerability is defined, in addition to how vulnerability is identified and why certain decisions are made, that we can arrive at a better understanding of the implementation of the appropriate adult safeguard in police custody.

References

Bean, P., and Nemitz, T. (1995), Out of depth and out of sight. Loughborough: University of Loughborough.

Bradley, K.J.C (2009), Review of People with Mental Health Problems or Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System. London: Department of Health.

Brown, D., Ellis, T., and Larcombe, K. (1992), Changing the Code: Police Detention Under the Revised PACE codes of Practice (Home Office Research Study No 129). London: Home Office.

Bucke, T., and Brown, D. (1997), In Police Custody: Police Powers and Suspects’ Rights under the Revised PACE codes of practice (Home Office Research Study No 174). London: Home Office.

Cummins, I. (2007), ‘A Path Not Taken? Mentally Disordered Offenders and the Criminal Justice System’ Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 28 (3-4), 267-281.

Dehaghani, R. (forthcoming), ‘He’s just not that vulnerable: Exploring the Implementation of the Appropriate Adult Safeguard in Police Custody’ Howard Journal of Crime and Justice.

Gudjonsson, G., Clare, I., Rutter, S. and Pearse, J. (1993), Persons at Risk During Interviews in Police Custody: The Identification of Vulnerabilities (Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure Research Study No 12). London: Home Office.

Home Office (2014), Revised Code of Practice for the Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons by Police Officers. Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, Code C. London: Crown.

Home Office (2014), Revised code of practice in connection with detention, treatment and questioning by police officers under the Terrorism Act 2000. Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. Code H. London: Crown.

Home Office (2010), Code of Practice for the Identification of Persons by Police Officers. Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. Code D. London: Crown.

Irving, B., and Mckenzie, I. (1989), Police Interrogation: The Effects of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. London: Police Foundation.

Medford, S., Gudjonsson, G.H. and Pearse, J. (2003), ‘The efficacy of the appropriate adult safeguard during police interviewing’ Legal and Criminological Psychology, 8(2), 253-266.

McKinnon, I. and Grubin, D. (2010) ‘Health screening in police custody’ Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 17, 209–212.

National Appropriate Adult Network (2015), There to help: Ensuring provision of appropriate adults for mentally vulnerable adults detained or interviewed by police. National Appropriate Adult Network.

Palmer, C. and Hart, M. (1996), A PACE in the right direction?: The effectiveness of safeguards in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 for mentally disordered and mentally handicapped suspects – A South Yorkshire Study. Sheffield: University of Sheffield.

Phillips, C. and Brown, D. (1998), Entry into the Criminal Justice System: A Survey of Police Arrests and their Outcomes (Home Office Research Study No 185). London: Home Office.

Legislation

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

Criminal Justice Act 2003