Vulnerability in Police Custody: Definition, Identification and Implementation in the Context of the Appropriate Adult Safeguard
thesisposted on 04.12.2017, 11:26 by Roxanna Dehaghani
The thesis is concerned with why police custody officers in England implement the appropriate adult (AA) safeguard or, rather, do not implement the safeguard. The main concerns are how custody officers define vulnerability (as implementation is, at least in part, based upon this definition) identify vulnerability (as vulnerability must then be identified before the AA safeguard is implemented), and why they may or may not implement the safeguard. To do so, this thesis incorporates empirical data gathered through observation of and interviews with police custody officers at two sites in England. In addition, the thesis contextualises how one can understand vulnerability more generally and, further, how the law and the courts approach vulnerability for the purposes of the AA safeguard. Lastly, this thesis examines why custody officers define, identify, and implement in a particular manner, drawing upon already existing theory on criminal justice and the law in relation to policing. However, I argue that such theories, even when synthesized, lack full explanatory power. Instead, and on the basis of applying a grounded theory approach to the data, I argue that custody officers approach their task in a manner which best suits their personal and then professional needs, taking a path of least resistance. Further, I propose a number of recommendations, highlighting the limits of each. Finally, and drawing upon the definition of vulnerability, I argue that vulnerability within police custody could be entirely reconceptualised.