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Title: Health morbidity in police custody : the evaluation of health screening and the development of improved screening processes for Police Custody Officers
Author: McKinnon, lain Gibson
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 2901
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2015
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Background: There is an excess of health morbidity among people incarcerated in Criminal Justice Systems (CJS) worldwide, encompassing physical disorders, communicable diseases, mental illness, suicide risk and disorders of intellectual development. As a result the issue of case identification has come into focus. Most CJS epidemiological and screening research has taken place in prisons, and predominantly in western countries. Much less investigative literature centres on police custody, which for many is the entry point into the CJS. Methods: 600 consecutive police custody detainees were clinically evaluated; their relevant health morbidity is described. The Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) existing health screen is administered by custody officers. It was evaluated by comparing researchers’ clinical findings with data captured on the health screen. Using these data, the screen was then redeveloped to improve areas of deficiency. The new screen was evaluated in the same way as the existing screen; further validation work took place away from the custody suite. A qualitative evaluation of barriers to effective screening and implementation was performed. This included interviews with custody staff, obtaining the views of detainees as well as observing the impact of the custody environment. Results: Police custody detainees presented with a wide range of health disorders. The existing screening tool used by the MPS missed substantial amounts of this morbidity. A pilot of the redeveloped screening tool demonstrated potential to improve the detection rate of detainees requiring medical attention whilst also reducing the numbers of detainees needlessly referred. A number of themes arose pertaining to barriers to effective screening and implementation; these related to issues concerning staff roles, the screening processes, the wider culture of the police, the custody environment and matters regarding professional development for officers and staff. Conclusion: It is possible to improve the case detection of detainees with significant health morbidity by police custody officers. However there is more to effective identification than the screening tool alone. The MPS are now in the process of implementing the new screen; further research in relation to its effectiveness and impact on detainees and health services is warranted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available