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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 185387 Find in a Library
Title: Race and Policing: A Study of Police Custody
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:40  Issue:4  Dated:Autumn 2000  Pages:639-658
Author(s): Nadia J. Britton
Editor(s): Geoffrey Pearson
Date Published: 2000
Page Count: 20
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: By presenting detailed evidence from an evaluation of a Help on Arrest Scheme (HOAS) for black detainees in England, the author critically examined the meaning of race in the police custody process.
Abstract: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 custody officers, three at each of four custody suites in one city and with an inspector in charge of two of the custody suites. In addition, three police officers at police headquarters were interviewed. Custody officer perspectives of law and order incorporated the assumption that, in principle, police officers are part of a neutral social institution designed to protect the rights of all citizens. Without exception, custody officers insisted the operation of a HOAS for black detainees could not be justified. Given the unequal relations of power that characterized police custody, custody officer views of the HOAS as racially discriminatory almost certainly influenced the likelihood that a detainee requested a volunteer in the first instance and that the request resulted in a volunteer being called out. Custody officers had the discretion to prevent detainees from requesting solicitors. Due to the non-mandatory status of the HOAS, there was even stronger reason to suspect that custody officers were able to prevent volunteers from being called out. It was clear the satisfactory management of custody suites entailed achieving maximum efficiency for both custody officers and investigating officers. Even though custody officers said the operation of a HOAS for black detainees could not be justified, it was clear the HOAS had potential benefits. The author raises important questions about the provision of lay representation for black detainees in police custody and suggests it may be worthwhile for both black detainees and custody officers to pursue the idea of offering black detainees the option of requesting a lay representative to provide practical support, reassurance, and advice. 67 references and 14 footnotes
Main Term(s): Foreign police
Index Term(s): Defense counsel; England; Foreign offenders; Minorities; Police-minority relations; Racial discrimination
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