Children and young people in police custody: an exploration of the experience of children and young people detained in police custody following arrest, from the perspective of the young suspect

Bevan, Miranda. 2019. Children and young people in police custody: an exploration of the experience of children and young people detained in police custody following arrest, from the perspective of the young suspect. Doctoral thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In the year to March 2018 there were 65,833 arrests of children and young people (YJB/MOJ 2019). The majority of these young people will have been detained as suspects in police custody; yet there is very limited empirical evidence as to how young people experience detention in the police station, and how the custody process functions for them from arrival to release.

This qualitative study makes an original contribution to police custody literature by exploring, from the perspective of the young suspect, the experiences of children and young people detained in the police station. The study draws on 41 semi-structured interviews with children and young people with experience of detention in police custody, supplemented by observations conducted in six police custody suites across three force areas, and by interviews and discussions with adults who engage with children in that setting: officers, healthcare practitioners, legal representatives, appropriate adults and Independent Custody Visitors.

The picture which emerges of young suspects’ experiences in police custody is deeply troubling. Many young research participants struggled to cope with a detention experience which is punitive, unnecessarily lengthy and very minimally adjusted to account for their youth. Their accounts are dominated by feelings of uncertainty, helplessness and desperation to “get out” of the cell. The protections which should be in place to support them through the process are often not implemented, or function ineffectively. In addition, their accounts raise real concerns about their abilities, in that setting, to make the significant decisions required of them in custody and to participate effectively in police interview. The findings call into question the fairness of the custody process for young suspects and the reliability of the evidence produced.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

children, young people, police custody

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Law

Date:

April 2019

Item ID:

31345

Date Deposited:

04 Feb 2022 09:50

Last Modified:

04 Feb 2022 09:50

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/31345

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