Civilian staff 'kinder to suspects than police'

Suspects in police custody consider civilian employees more caring than police officers, new research from Sheffield University has found.

The research by Dr Layla Skinns explored the changes police custody has undergone to civilianise roles that used to be performed by the police, such as booking in suspects.

Her findings, published in the book Police Custody: Governance Legitimacy and Reform in the Criminal Justice Process, reveal that civilian members of staff are highly regarded by suspects for their rapport and compassionate attitude.

In carrying out the research, a team spent a week each at two custody areas in England – one publically-run site, employing mainly police officers, and a largely privately-run site in which most staff are employed by a private security company.

Dr Skinns said: "Police custody has been a neglected area of academic research for the last decade. It is also a topic that rarely receives much attention by the wider public, yet it is extremely important.

"The research in the book fills this gap, providing an insight into what it is like in police custody for staff and suspects."