When suspects are arrested, they spend their time in police custody largely in isolation and out of public view. These custody blocks are police territory, and public controversies about what happens there often only arise when a detainee dies.
Custody visitors are volunteers who make what are supposed to be random and unannounced visits to police custody blocks to check on the welfare of detainees. However, there is a fundamental power imbalance between the police and these visitors, which calls the independence and effectiveness of custody visiting into question.
Investigating this largely unexplored part of the criminal justice system, this timely book includes the voices of the detainees who have a unique insight into the scheme. It offers detailed proposals for radically reforming custody visiting to make it an effective regulator of police behaviour, with an explanation of the political context that could make that a reality.
"The first detailed insight, from a uniquely fused practitioner and academic perspective, into custody visiting - a vital aspect of the police custody process" Roxanna Dehaghani, Cardiff School of Law and Politics
"John Kendall demonstrates the inadequacies of the current system comprehensively and systematically. The only reasonable response to his conclusions is to adopt them as soon as possible." Regan Peggs, Birmingham Law Society
"A carefully researched book that praises the principle of custody visiting while revealing how the present system undermines the intentions of the scheme, and discusses how it could be greatly improved. Valuable." Diana Ellis QC
"This innovative and objective study of the system of external supervision of police custody, and of its failure to let daylight in, should alert everyone concerned with the tension between authority and liberty." Sir Stephen Sedley, former Lord Justice of Appeal
“Thorough, critical, insightful – John Kendall uses original empirical analysis in one police force area to shine a light on the sometimes not so independent custody visitors inside police detention.” Layla Skinns, University of Sheffield
“…This book will be of interest to practitioners, lawyers, volunteers, academics and others who may find interest around the imbalance of power within the inner workings of police custody suites.” BSCs Criminology and Criminal Justice Journal
John Kendall previously worked as a commercial solicitor. He was originally the sole author of Kendall on Expert Determination (5th edition, Sweet & Maxwell, 2014).
In retirement John worked as a custody visitor, and found it profoundly unsatisfactory. He undertook a self-funded research project and obtained access to the visitors, custody blocks, the police, and detainees. He was awarded a PhD for this research by the University of Birmingham, and this book is the result of that research.
Visiting the state's secret places
Gutting a good idea
Getting the visitors on side
Does custody visiting achieve anything?
Could custody visiting be made to work?