Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


Risk assessment for enhanced service provision projects

Project 3 - Improved Risk Assessment for Criminal Justice Service Provision

The risk assessment of detainees is an essential part of the custody booking in process. Each year a number of detainees die or harm themselves whilst in police custody. Legislation places a duty of care on custody to protect the right to life of the detainee and the responsibility of how detainees are treated lies with the Custody Officers. There is wide variance in the risk assessment process across police forces in England and Wales as shown by HMIC Inspection reports and a recent Risk Assessment mapping exercise. Although guidance on risk assessments and observation levels are provided by the College of Policing, the guidance does not include a mechanism to relate the result of the risk assessment to appropriate risk management / observation levels. Currently, this decision is based on the Custody Officers judgement of the situation. However, setting observation levels too high can lead to a reduction in capacity and resource, yet implementing them too low may lead to a fatality.

The aim of this research is to identify how Custody Officers assess risk and determine which risk management level to apply. This will be done through the following types of research: analysis of custody records; interviewing custody officers; an ethnographic study based in custody suites; and a scenario analysis given to custody officers. The results and knowledge from this research can then be applied to the risk assessment process with the aim of making it more efficient - asking only the most relevant questions, and more effective – leading to the most appropriate observation levels set.