What's going on in police custody?

The little-known Independent Custody Visiting Scheme enables people to make unannounced visits to police stations and to check on the welfare of detainees. Custody visitors are the only outsiders to see detainees in their cells: the visitors could play a significant role in regulating the police.

Dr John Kendall of Birmingham Law School conducted an in-depth case study, including face to face interviews with detainees, visitors and police and civilian custody staff. The original purpose of the scheme was to deter the police from conduct which might lead to the death of detainees. There are about 20 deaths in custody a year, including a disproportionately high number of BAME detainees, an issue highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. As the result of government policy and the power of the police, the visiting scheme is not independent, makes no impact on the behaviour of the police, and urgently needs reform.

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