Police reforms and community policing in Poland 2017-2020 by Monika Baylis

Polish Police was established on the 24th of July 1919 by the Act of ‘’Sejm’’ – the lower chamber of Polish parliament of the Second Polish Republic and recently has celebrated its’ 95th birthday. Today, the organisation employs over 100.000 police officers and has just emerged on a new journey called ‘’A programme of modernization of Police, Customs and Boarder Services, Fire Service and Government Protection Bureau’’ allocated for the years between 2017 – 2020, proposed by a current Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration, Mr Mariusz Blaszczak in 2016 and accepted in 2017 by Polish ‘Sejm’. 

01-baylis-main2Monika Baylis who is in her final year of PhD at the University of Huddersfield, argues that the Act, which was a continuation of the previous Act dated from 2006 can be seen as ‘a fresh breath of air’ and much needed ‘’a wake-up call’’ to improve Police service in general which goes along with the view of Polish Police Federation (NSZZ) or NZZPZK expressed in an official letter directed towards Polish government in 2016, stating: ‘’Policja’ has been neglected for many years’’(NZZPZK; 2016, n.p).


Monika Baylis, University of Huddersfield

email: Monika.Baylis@hud.ac.uk  Twitter: @MonikaBaylis

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Monika Baylis with Polish Police – Warsaw airport – September 2017.

Polish Police is based on a centralized model of policing which is similar to Italian or French one. Since its creation in 1919, the organisation went through some difficult transformations by changing its’ name (e.i. from ‘Policja’ to ‘Milicja’ during the communist regime); structure and the role; reflecting some major political, economic and social changes of that times; the First; the Second World War; the Soviet Era, the fall of Communism in 1989; the birth of Polish capitalism in 1990. However, as some Polish academics argue, Polish Police known these days as ‘’Policja’’ faced considerable reforms that resulted in a restructuring of the entire policing model when Polish parliament passed a new Police Act that took effect on April 6,1990.

This Act organized the police force by allowing ‘’Policja’’ to combat crime through the new democratic political framework, where the Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration gained the administrative controls over the institution by becoming ‘’ultimately responsible for “enforcing all statutory tasks in the field of public safety and order” (Pływaczewski and Walancik, 2004, p. 93).

Other reforms occurred independently in 1995 and 1999, which restricted municipal public order forces; ‘Straz Miejska’/ ‘’Municipal guards’’ from using the official title of “police”, and added sub‐divisions within the nationalized force, therefore, widening the scope of Police work by including criminal service, prevention service, drug squads and anti‐terrorism squads.

In addition, the reforms of 1999 introduced major changes in the administrative structure of the police force as they created another level of checks on police power by requiring officers to report to both regional police chiefs and county‐level police chiefs for all police‐related matters. Therefore, each commander of the region and county become responsible for identifying and assessing problems specific to his/her jurisdictions; drug abuse, organized crime, or property crime and then allocating the appropriate resources to address each problem.

This can be seen as a policing model that echoes elements of Community Oriented Policing (COP) model found in the US and it has been argued that it was created to bring officers and community members closer together by forming a trust between police and a public. However, gaining a trust of society can be a tricky issue, especially in the country where people still remember the methods of policing used by Milicja during the Communism time, and recall or witnessed the ‘zero tolerance’ approach or ‘hard policing’ when it comes to public disorder or ‘’hooliganism’’, which is currently used by Polish Police. Therefore, there are mixed messages passed across the country; according to latest statistics published by CBOS in 2016, 65% of Polish public trusted the Police, while the remaining 27% did not. Moreover, recently Polish Media featured and questioned the Codes of Ethics of police officers who dealt with a famous case of detaining of 25 years old Igor Stachowiak from Wroclaw, who died in a police custody in May 2016.

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The Police protecting the main exit of Police Station in Wroclaw (Wyborcza.pl, 2017).

The footage appeared on one of the most popular Polish TV channels; TVN24, which prompted massive public and official reaction; public demonstrations in Wroclaw and the dismissal of officers involved in the case.

Although, the case of Igor is still controversial one in Poland, it is important to add that gaining a trust of any community can play an important role in the way the Police is being perceived by others as some scholars argue that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe in the legitimacy of police authority. Therefore, the community policing and Police reforms; ‘’the Programme of modernisation of Polish public services; Police; Customs and Boarder Services, Fire Service and Government Protection Bureau’’ have become a popular agenda in marketing materials of Polish Government or Polish Police. This can be seen as the latest mission to improve the organisation’s image and the existing model of policing by adding a new rank of NPT officer known as ‘’starszy dzielnicowy’’; using social media; Twitter; FB; National TV or by taking on more pro-active approach by helping out with the National Programme called ‘’Kreci Mnie Bezpieczenstwo’’ – ‘’ Safety first’’ funded by Polish Government, where police officers from prevention units regularly visit local schools and interact with children, young or elderly people by discussing different aspects of ‘safety’, Anti-Social Behaviour or crime.

The arguments presented above have become a part of my PhD Literature Review, however, what is more relevant is the fact, that by being a PhD researcher in Criminology I carried out in total 32 semi-structured interviews with Polish Police and Municipal Guards plus joined them on car and foot patrols between 2015 and 2016. The experience gained and my project, has provided me with a rich data with a basic message to pass on; ‘’The change is needed and welcome by police officers’’.

This can go along with the view represented by Polish Police Federation and a current Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration; Mr Mariusz Blaszczak as both sources keep pointing out that it is high time to bring a modern technology; body worn cameras; faster cars and improve officers’ conditions of work by re-opening and refurbishing police stations; adding updated system of communication or increasing officers’ salary to bring a positive change into the formation and improve the morale in general.

Finally, a recent report carried out by NIK (National Audit Office) in 2016, revealed that there is still plenty to do; increasing hours of Police training, introducing new equipment, and finally defining the role of the NPT officer itself. Yes, the list is vast and some work; testing body worn cameras; opening new police station or signing on new ammunition’s suppliers has been in the process but there are still three years left to be able to comment on the current work of Polish government and the evaluation of the reforms shall be carried out afterwards to see ‘’what works’’ or could be changed in the future. Therefore, a waiting game is on and let’s hope all actors involved will get it right as the safety of Polish public and the future of Polish Police is depending on the decisions of current government and the Chief Constable; Dr Jaroslaw Szymczyk.

Reference List:

Czapska, J., Radomska, E., and Wojcik, D. (2014), ‘’Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Cooperation with the Police: A Polish Perspective’’: Journal of Criminal Justice & Security, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p453-470. 18p.

Cebulak, W. and Pływaczewski, E. (2000), “Poland: developing nation-state”, in Barak, G. (Ed.), Crime and Crime Control: A Global View, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, pp. 163-76.

Haberfeld, M. P., Walanick, A., & Barrtel, U. E. (2003). Community policing in Poland, final report. National Institute of Justice, (NIJ #199360). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Ivkovic, S. and Haberfeld, M. (2000), “Transformation from militia to police in Croatia and Poland – a comparative perspective”, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies

& Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 194-217.

Kancelaria Sejmu RP (2017), ‘’Dz.U. 1990 nr 30 poz. 179; Ustawa z dnia 6 kwietnia 1990 r. o Policji’’, Available from:  http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU19900300179

KGP, (2017) ‘’USTAWA O MODERTNIZACJI POLSKIEJ POLICJI PRZYJETA’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/4432,Ustawa-o-modernizacji-Policji-przyjeta.html

Ministerswto Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji, (2016), ‘’Projekt ustawy o ustanowieniu „Programu modernizacji Policji, Straży Granicznej, Państwowej Straży Pożarnej i Biura Ochrony Rządu w latach 2017-2020”, Available from: https://bip.mswia.gov.pl/bip/projekty-aktow-prawnyc/2016/24051,Projekt-ustawy-o-ustanowieniu-Programu-modernizacji-Policji-Strazy-Granicznej-Pa.html

Misiuk, A. (2008) ‘’Historia Policji w Polsce. Od X Wieku do Współczesności’’, Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.

NIK, (2016), ‘’NIK o pracy dzielnicowych’’, Available from: https://www.nik.gov.pl/aktualnosci/nik-o-pracy-dzielnicowych.html

NIST, (n.d.) ‘’Starszy dzielnicowy – awans dla dobra wspólnoty samorządowej’’, Available from: https://www.nist.gov.pl/serwis-obywatelsko-samorzadowy/starszy-dzielnicowy—awans-dla-dobra-wspolnoty-samorzadowej,428.html

Nowak, M, (2017) ‘’Polska Policja radzi, jak… schować się przed policjantem. Kto prowadzi im konta na Facebooku i Twitterze?’’, Available from: https://www.spidersweb.pl/2017/05/polska-policja-facebook-twitter.html

NZZPZ, (2016), ‘’Pan Mariusz Blaszczak Minister Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji WARSZAWA; WNIOSEK, Available from: https://bip.mswia.gov.pl/bip/projekty-aktow-prawnyc/2016/24051,Projekt-ustawy-o-ustanowieniu-Programu-modernizacji-Policji-Strazy-Granicznej-Pa.html

NSZZ, (2016), ‘’Wniosek o dodatek specjalny dla OPP i SPPP trafił na biurko Komendanta Głównego Policji’’, Available from: http://nszzp.pl/najwazniejsze-wiadomosci/wniosek-o-dodatek-specjalny-dla-opp-sppp-trafil-biurko-komendanta-glownego-policji/

Policja.pl, (n.d.), ‘’Historia’’, Available from: http://www.info.policja.pl/inf/historia

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Kampania MSWiA „Kręci mnie bezpieczeństwo”, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/142091,Ruszyla-kampania-MSWiA-Kreci-mnie-bezpieczenstwo.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Komendant Glowny Policji’’, Available from: http://www.info.policja.pl/inf/kierownictwo-i-struktu/komendanci/86241,Komendanci.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Zero tolerancji dla kiboli i chuliganów stadionowych’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/138687,Zero-tolerancji-dla-kiboli-i-chuliganow-stadionowych.html

Policja.pl, (2016) ‘’Wiekszosc Polakow Deklaruje zaufanie do Policji’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/122393,Wiekszosc-Polakow-deklaruje-swoje-zaufanie-do-Policji.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Nowe posterunki’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/tagi/7816,nowe-posterunki.html

Pływaczewski, E. and Walancik, P. (2004), “Challenges and changes to the police system in

Poland”, in Caparini, M. and Marenin, O. (Eds), Transforming Police in Central and

Eastern Europe: Process and Progress, Transaction Publishers, London, pp. 93-114.

Summers, D. and Plywaczewski, E. (2012), ‘’The Polish context Examining issues of police reform, drug use and drug trafficking in a transitioning democracy’’: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Vol. 35 Issue: 2, pp.231-252,

TVN24, (2017), ‘’Policja testuje kamery mundurowe. Docelowo mają rejestrować wszystkie interwencje (http://www.tvn24.pl)’’, Available from: https://fakty.tvn24.pl/ogladaj-online,60/policja-testuje-kamery-mundurowe-docelowo-maja-rejestrowac-wszystkie-interwencje,744485.html

TVN24, (2017), ‘’Sprawa śmierci Igora Stachowiaka. “Dążymy do tego, by policjanci byli wyposażeni w tasery” (http://www.tvn24.pl)’’, Available from: https://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/igor-stachowiak-zmarl-na-komisariacie-policja-o-uzywaniu-paralizatora,741922.html

University of Huddersfield, (2017) ‘’Same page or poles apart – policing anti-social behaviour’’, Available from: http://www-old.hud.ac.uk/news/2017/january/samepageorpolesapartpolicinganti-socialbehaviour.php

 

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Building Foundations- A message for those at the start of their PhD.

As we start a new academic year, our Chair reflects on the early stages of the PhD.

So much of the early stages of the PhD is understanding the PhD process and what is expected of you. Where is the bar we’re aiming for? What level of writing? What level of knowledge? What level of analysis? An original contribution to what now?! It’s learning; how you work, how you write, how you get the best out of yourself. Building relationships, with other PhD students, with your supervisors, with your networks. Building resilience. Building confidence. And learning the field, learning your research topic. That in-depth knowledge of your topic begins from year one.

We’re in the PhD for the long haul. It is, as many say, a marathon. And the PhD can take over your life, and the lives of people around you. What do you mean people aren’t interested in discussing Goffman and Foucault?! The PhD has a presence with you, in your mind, a companion. The things you put in place in the first year need to make sense for the distance. You can’t sprint or push through for the whole of the PhD. There may be sprinting moments, but the way you work needs to be sustainable for the longevity. Be kind to yourself. Build practices that make sense for you and make sense for the marathon.

The first part of the PhD is important. It feels like nothing is happening and you’re getting nowhere. But this is building your foundations; your working practices, your knowledge, your confidence. And your PhD rests on these foundations. They are essential. It may feel like you’re lost in those early days, going down blind alleys of reading, different directions, different distractions. Is this relevant? Is it important? It may feel that you’re not achieving anything, going around in circles. But the foundation-building of the first year is fundamental. Trust that it is important. You absolutely need it. It makes for a strong PhD resting on solid ground.

This stage matters. You’re doing the building. Be patient. Be sensible. Be kind to yourself.

Claire Davis, BSC Postgraduate Chair.

 

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.

Talking Points -Nathan Constable, the policing of mental health.

***Monday 7th November***

Our November BSC Talking Points discussion, hosted by anonymous tweeting and blogging UK police officer Nathan Constable, will focus on policing of mental health.
Nathan Constable is a serving police inspector in a UK constabulary. He has been tweeting and blogging anonymously for six years, commenting regularly on issues such as policing demand and police professionalisation, and is a finalist for the Best Blogging Police Officer in this year’s Police Twitter Awards.

Read about the reasoning behind Nathan’s annoymity here

If you would like some pre-reading then check out Nathan’s blog http://nathanconstable.wordpress.com (you can search for mental health related blogs) and Nathan suggests taking a good look through the work of @mentalhealthcop (twitter and blog).

See you on our Facebook group, Mon 7th Nov @8-9pm #GetInvolved

In the meantime, this commentary is worth a read: ‘I do much more than police work..’

[Image: Twitter/ ACC Paul Netherton – discussed here ].

 

Talking Points Summary – David Honeywell

This month David Honeywell hosted our monthly talking points debate in our Facebook group. David has kindly written this blog post in  response to the event.

Discussions on prisons are always a hot topic which is not surprising because everyone has an opinion on prison yet few understand what prison is for. The BSC forum discussion took place only several days after I had published an article in the conversation No wonder prisons are getting more violent about the rising prison population, violence and the government’s failure to implement recently promised prison reforms announced in the Queens speech earlier this year. I was pleased to see how popular such a discussion around prison could be and that I was able to create the right sort of questions that would ignite debate with comments being posted long after the discussion had closed.

Prison is a jungle where the survival of the fitness wins through and the weak are downtrodden. Because the responses came from fellow academics most of who support reform and rehabilitation – there wasn’t any resistance about the idea that people go to prison as punishment rather than to be punished. Unfortunately, the public by enlarge would disagree with most of us preferring life to mean life; that prisons are too soft and that prisoners go to prison to be punished in addition to losing their liberty.

Little knowledge of prison actually exists amongst the public and most who make claim that prisons are like holiday camps, have never actually been anywhere near a prison. The bulk of their knowledge comes from media reports that use low category prisons as a benchmark of what ‘prison’ is like. Rarely does the public see the physical harm that prisoners inflict on one another or indeed themselves. Never do they see the psychological harm that prison inflicts on prisoners. Most will never see inside a solitary confinement cell or feel the tensions that continually simmer within this pressure cooker environment.
Never will the media be able to photograph the pains of imprisonment or every day prison life.

My first question asking whether people are sent to prison as punishment or for punishment, created an immediate response that included answers such as prisons should be for both punishment and reform. My second question asked what the answer was to prison reform which received calls for more community focussed punishments including restorative justice whereby one person who has worked within this field argues that it is very affective. And there was an agreement that mental ill prisoners need mental health care as opposed to just punishment. Radical reforms for how women prisoners should be treated were called for including a ‘tailored approach that reflects the distinctiveness of their offending and their vulnerability’.

Finally I posed the question to the forum that if there was a possibility they may go to prison, what they would most fear. This was the most popular question and an ideal finale which created a lot of response. Surprisingly very few said they would fear possible backlash aimed towards their family members. This is a common oversight amongst offenders which shows how we go into survival mode when considering this bleak possibility. But most responses included fears of being away from family, violence, lack of control and space. All such responses confirm one of the most influential classic prison studies which was by Gresham Sykes in 1957. He talked about the pains of imprisonment all of which are still as relevant today.

Questions still remain when prison reforms will take place and what will happen to our prisons in the future.


Interested in this months talking points topic? The BSC PG committee are hosting a seminar on prison reform as part of their thinking differently series. details can be found below:

How can we understand the rise in prison violence? The first seminar of the new BSC Postgraduate Thinking Differently series, ‘Thinking Differently about Prison Reform’ 15 Nov in Liverpool http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-37698780

More details of the event, and call for papers, can be found on the events page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-differently-about-p…

 

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.

PhD Blog – Communication is key: Why does Communication in Youth Justice Matter?

 

As we resume our PhD guest blog series after the summer break, this weeks blog is from Gabriella Simak.
Profile_PictureGabriella is in the 3rd year of a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Bangor University. Her research interests are related to youth justice policy, more specifically the use of restorative justice models in the current retributive framework of youth justice. Gabriella’s PhD is exploring how the speech, language and communication needs/difficulties affect restorative justice in the context of referral orders in England and Wales. Her project employs a mixed methods approach, including a wealth of data from interviews with YOT practitioners, Speech and Language Therapists, non-participant observation of Youth Offender Panel meetings, and case level quantitative data on young people sentenced to referral orders.
Gabriella has an MA in Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her dissertation focused on the implementation of Family Group Conferencing in Welsh Youth Justice Services, titled Youth Justice in Wales: Possibilities through the Family Group Conferencing Model.  Gabriella is originally from Canada, and completed her undergraduate degree in Criminology and Sociology at the University of Toronto – making her a truly international criminologist! This blog post showcases her PhD work to date. If you wish to contact Gabriella about her research, please email sop00f@bangor.ac.uk.
Communication is key: Why does Communication in Youth Justice Matter?

This study explored how communication impacts restorative justice measures in the context of referral orders, including whether reparation to the victim and to the wider community is possible for young people with communication difficulties in England and Wales.

Research questions:

  • How are speech language and communication needs (SLCNs) identified in Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) for young people on Referral Orders?
  • How do communication needs of young people affect the reparation process in Youth Offender Panel (YOP) meetings?
  • How young people’s SLCNs affect referral order outcomes?
    • Hypothesis: Young people with SLCNs are more likely to breach their referral orders than those without.

Speech, language and communication needs refer to “a wide range of difficulties related to all aspects of communication in children and young people. These can include difficulties with fluency, forming sounds and words, formulating sentences, understanding what others say, and using language socially” (Bercow, 2008: 13). Key research points to the difficulties young people with SLCNs face when engaging with services within the young justice system. Recent studies have estimates the prevalence of SLCNs in the young offender population to be up to 60% (Gregory and Bryan, 2007: 507), whereas 6% in the general population in the UK (Law, et al. 2010). Communication difficulties, such as lack of understanding, poor vocabulary and difficulties with expressive language have a negative impact on how young people’s behaviour is perceived by YOT (Youth Offending Team) practitioners (Gregory and Bryan, 2009: 8). Research shows that young people with low levels of language ability are likely struggle particularly with verbally mediated interventions (Bryan and Gregory, 2013: 360). Referral Orders were introduced by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and should operate on the restorative justice principles of responsibility, reparation and reintegration (Ministry of Justice, 2015: 10).

This project explored the impact on young people’s SLCNs on referral orders using a mixed methods approach. Twenty two YOTs with seconded Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) were identified and approached (Five in Wales and 17 in England). Participants included: YOT Case Managers, Referral Order Coordinators, Early Intervention Officers, Volunteer Community Panel Members (VCPMs) and seconded SLTs from a total of 16 YOTs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants in person, over the telephone and interview questions were available in questionnaire format for participants’ convenience. Non-participant observations of Youth Offender Panel meetings were undertaken, including initial and review panel meetings. Finally, quantitative case level data were collected from one YOT in Wales to answer the third research question.

Practitioners interviewed mostly agreed that there was a large prevalence of SLCNs in young people on referral orders and that communication is of great importance in referral order processes. Young people mask their SLCNs by adapting behaviour that may be perceived and misinterpreted as difficult by YOT practitioners. The two main themes emerging were SLT service provision and SLTs role within the YOTs and the second theme was practitioners effectively engaging and communicating with young people with SLCNs during the referral order process. There were differences of SLT service provision within individual YOTs in terms of the SLTs role, such as screening young people, referral to SLTs by YOT Case Managers, and whether the SLT was able to provide intervention for those young people with identified SLCNs. Similarities in the role of SLTs were training of YOT practitioners in SLCN awareness and engaging young people in interventions. SLTs had an important role of providing material for YOT practitioners and a consultancy role for practitioners to discuss particular cases. In Wales, there was a need for bilingual English and Welsh SLT service provision for those young people who are more comfortable using Welsh.

In terms of YOP observations, VCPMs’ level of experience in engaging young people greatly differed with more experienced volunteers engaging more effectively with young people during panel meetings. Volunteer panel members were provided information through the referral order report written by the YOT Case Manager, including the Asset assessment, which informed panel members’ approach to engaging young people in a dialogue. Reparation directly to the victim was affected by young people’s SLCNs in terms of their ability to express themselves both verbally and participating in reparative activities.

Just like any programme based on restorative justice principles, referral orders assume open communication between stakeholders. However, effective communication is lacking, a power imbalance is created which hinders reparation and restoration of the harm. Most interventions in referral order processes are verbally conducted, and require young people to understand and process complex information. Consequently identification and appropriate support of young people with SLCNs is of great importance in order to successfully complete referral orders, young people must be able to communicate with other stakeholders. Analysis of case level data on young people with SLCNs indicate that there is no significant relationship between young people’s SLCNs and their referral order completion/breach rates. Therefore the hypothesis was rejected.

 

References:

BERCOW, J., 2008. The Bercow Report A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0–19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Nottingham, England: DCSF Publications.

BRYAN, K., FREER, J. and FURLONG, C., 2007. Language and communication difficulties in juvenile offenders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 42(5), pp. 505-520.

BRYAN, K. and GREGORY, J., 2013. Perceptions of staff on embedding speech and language therapy within a youth offending team. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 29(3), pp. 359-371.

BRYAN, K., 2004. Preliminary study of the prevalence of speech and language difficulties in young offenders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 39(3), pp. 391-400.

GREGORY, J. and BRYAN, K., 2009. Evaluation of the Leeds Speech and Language Therapy Service provision within the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme provided by the Leeds Youth Offending Team. Leeds% 20SLT% 20report% 20Jun% 2010a.pdf (accessed 12 December 2010).

LAW, J., GARRETT, Z. and NYE, C., 2010. Speech and language therapy interventions for children with primary speech and language delay or disorder (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3), pp. 1-79.

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, 2015. Referral Order Guidance. United Kingdom: Ministry of Justice.

 

The BSCPG Committee – going from strength to strength

Susie Atherton, Keele University

If you have been keeping up with our blog over the course of the BSC conference, you will see that Susie has offered some brilliant posts to update us with the key themes and messages from the conference proceedings. Here is another fantastic post from her, if you want to catch up with her previous posts you can find them here and here. Thank you Susie!

 

As an ex-chair of the committee, 2010-2012 (ish), I am so pleased to see the fine work which has gone on since my departure. When I took over, previous chairs had raised the profile of the BSC post-graduate group over the years, to have their own conference and website, and it was a valued voice for new PG students like me. To be part of it so early on in my PhD journey was exciting and at the time, developing the good work of my predecessors was helped by many others, on the journey with me and also established academics keen to pass on their wisdom and experiences.

 

Last year, in Plymouth, Professor Joe Sims was inspiring, celebrating the work of post-graduate students, telling them how valuable they are and how very important to criminology and social science. Having been out of loop since stepping down in 2012, I was so pleased to see how Rachel Morris and Anna Sergi had kept up the ethos and purpose of the BSCPG committee. Way back when I set up the Facebook and Twitter accounts, we just had a plan on how to best manage it and a hope that some members would find it useful. Since then, it has come on in leaps and bounds, now at 1,520 members and growing every week.

 

Now a new generation are taking things even further and ensuring that post-graduates in criminology (and related disciplines!) are part of the blogosphere, and seeing the opportunities of new technologies to generate debates, raise the profile of research and share experiences. I am certain for many students it is a lifeline – doing a PhD can be a lonely existence, even with the best efforts of university departments, and I hope students continue to value the work of the BSCPG committee. It is really heartening to see tweets from members such as Joe Payne (with a video!) thanking Clare Davis and her team for another great event, and I have to mention Nicola Harding for her excellent work on developing the blog and keeping it going. There is a bright future ahead for postgraduate students, and while sitting in my study and blogging away during #BSCConf2016 has been nice, I am excited to attend next year, hopefully as ‘Dr’, but that’s a blog for another day….

 

 

Welcome from the BSC PG Committee

The first thing to say about the postgraduate committee of the BSC is that it’s yours – it belongs to you as postgraduate students of criminology. It’s purpose is to reflect and pursue your needs and interests. Postgraduates really do have influence over the work and direction of the BSC, more now than ever, so it’s a great time to get involved. So, what would you like from us? How would you like to communicate and engage with the BSC? What events would you like the BSC to run? We are keen to get your views on what you’d like from the BSC as criminology postgraduates, and will be running  ‘What do you Think?’ sessions on our Facebook group. One of the main things we’re working towards is getting a portfolio of events together, at different locations across the UK, dedicated to criminology postgraduate students. We want to run events that add value and support postgraduates, so please let us know if there is a theme or area you’d like us to look into for an event.

I was recently appointed as chair of the committee, taking over from the great work that Rachel and Anna had done previously. My main motivation to get involved with the BSC was the opportunity to provide events, workshops, seminars that positively contribute to the criminology postgraduate experience. So all those moments of ‘wouldn’t it be great if we had access to this?’ or ‘I really wish we has that event’, the postgraduate committee could do something about it.

I am massively excited about the work and the potential of the new postgraduate committee. Nicola has done amazing work so far with this blog, and I’m so excited to see how it develops from here. Sarah has fantastic ideas, some of which you’ll see at the conference. But of course, there’s always room for new ideas, so please do get in touch with either myself, Nicola or Sarah with any suggestions or comments you have. We’d be so pleased to hear from you.

So with that, we welcome you to the new BSC postgraduate blog! We look forward to reading about all of the interesting research that you’re doing, and very much hope that you enjoy the space and find all the discussions helpful.

Claire, Nicola and Sarah

Your Postgraduate Committee

Call for Contributions

BSC Postgraduates, we need YOU! We are looking for contributions from the criminology postgraduate community, for the all new BSC Postgraduate Blog.

In order to showcase the interesting and cutting edge research that we know postgraduates in criminology are doing, we have opened a call for contributions to the new postgraduate blog. To become a contributor to the blog, we ask that in the first instance you email an expression of interest to nicola.harding@stu.mmu.ac.uk.

Initially all we need to know is a short (150 words max) biography. Including the subject of your PhD, your year of study and university. Additionally please briefly explain what you will blog about. Please enclose a portrait image that you are happy to include with your blog post, and your preferred contact email (also to be published with your blog post).

Once accepted, we will give you a deadline and guidance helping you to submit a 500-800 word blog. Once looked over by the editors, the blog will be published and shared to our mailing list, followers and on social media. We will send you an email with the link to your blog, which you will be able to share and add to your CV.

Blogging is a growing form of academic engagement, and is becoming increasingly valuable for networking and disseminating your research. We look forward to facilitating this for postgraduate students within criminology.