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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 134391 Find in a Library
Title: Unsafe and Unsatisfactory? Report on the Independent Inquiry into the Working Practices of the West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad
Author(s): T Kaye
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 93
Sponsoring Agency: Civil Liberties Trust
London, SE1 4LA, England
Publication Number: ISBN 0-900137-35-5
Sale Source: Civil Liberties Trust
21 Tabard Street
London, SE1 4LA,
United Kingdom
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: During the latter part of 1988 and throughout 1989 until its eventual dissolution, activities of the West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad in England caused considerable public concern because it was alleged that some officers flouted the legal framework for police investigations.
Abstract: An inquiry was initiated to evaluate the Serious Crime Squad's actions and to establish the frequency of malpractice. The inquiry focused on the squad's legal framework related to police detention, interrogation, and discipline and on confession evidence, police behavior patterns, and squad management and the role of senior officers. The inquiry investigated 67 squad cases covering the 1979-1989 period that involved approximately 170 suspects and defendants. Twenty-three trials of cases involved the unsuccessful prosecution of 41 defendants, where either the charges were dropped, the judge directed acquittal, the jury found the defendants to be innocent, or the conviction was quashed on appeal. Much of the squad's work was not related to serious cases, and many officers served in the squad for long periods. The squad developed its own ethos and a machismo culture that deterred female officers from applying. In addition, the squad was highly resistant to change and/or reorganization, many of the squad's crime investigation efforts were channeled into obtaining confessions from suspects, and interviewing techniques appeared dangerously simplistic. Relations between squad officers and those on divisional duties were somewhat strained. Further, access to legal representation was delayed in every case except one where the presence of a solicitor was requested by the suspect. Some of the confessions allegedly made by suspects in the custody of squad officers lacked significant details. Throughout the 1980's the squad relied heavily on information provided by protected police informants. Finally, the ability of senior officers to manage their responsibilities was severely hampered by too much unnecessary paperwork and insufficient or inadequate training. Recommendations are offered on confession evidence, complaints, special squads, and police discipline. Supplemental information on the inquiry is appended. 17 references and 7 tables
Main Term(s): Foreign police
Index Term(s): England; Police effectiveness; Professional conduct and ethics
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