Welcome to my blog

I thought this would be a great way to tell everyone about the many interesting things that I do in my professional life as a researcher, writer and educator. At the moment, my interest is mainly focused on policing and more specifically on police custody i.e. where people are taken on arrest whilst a decision is reached about charge. Watch this space for updates on my whirlwind academic life.

About Me

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Layla Skinns is a Senior Lecturer in criminology in the Centre for Criminological Research at the School of Law, University of Sheffield. Before joining the Centre for Criminological Research, Layla worked at the University of Cambridge, where she was the Adrian Socio-Legal Research Fellow at Darwin College and a Teaching Associate on the MSt. in Applied Criminology for senior police, prison and probation staff. Whilst working as a Research Fellow at Darwin College, she co-organised the prestigious Darwin College Lecture Series on the theme of risk. Her qualifications are: MA (Hons) Sociology and Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 2000; MPhil Criminological Research, University of Cambridge, 2001 and PhD Criminology, University of Cambridge, 2005

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Conference season is nigh

I've got a couple of events coming up over the next few weeks. The first is on Friday 17 June. I am giving a research seminar for the Metropolitan Police Service about the findings from my study of police custody in England, based on my recently published book. The details of this talk are as follows:

The aim of this seminar it to provide feedback to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) from a recent study comparing two police custody suites, one of which is in the MPS Area. This study examined police custody from start to finish, considering who works there and what it is like for them and for the suspects who are detained there. A key focus of the study was the civilianization and privatization of police custody. Consequently, data were collected in the custody suite in the MPS, which was staffed by police officers and non-warranted civilians (designated detention officers), as well as in a custody suite in a different police service area, which had been refurbished and was managed and largely staffed by a private security company as part of a public-finance initiative. The seminar will provide a ‘flavour’ of the findings from the study, exploring conditions in police custody; staff and suspect experiences of working or being detained there; suspect access to their rights and entitlements; police and police staff roles and responsibilities and relationships with each other and with suspects; relationships between the police and other key criminal justice practitioners such as drug legal advisors, medical staff, appropriate adults and drug workers. To conclude, we will examine what can be learned from the study about improving police custody practices.

I have also organised an 'author meets critics' panel at the British Society of Criminology Conference 4-6 July at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle. The 'critics' are Professor David Dixon, University of New South Wales; Dr Megan O'Neill, University of Salford; and Professor Robert Reiner, London School of Economics. They will each offer their comments and critical reflections on my book, Police Custody: Governance, legitimacy and reform in the criminal justice process

'Inspecting' the inspectors

The last time I wrote I was about to give a paper at the British Society of Criminology Yorkshire and Humber inaugural event. This seemed to go well. One of the points I made in this conference presentation is that my research showed that decisions about suspects in police custody are made on a much more discretionary basis in the jurisdiction in the U.S., compared to the jurisdiction in Australia and in Ireland and England and Wales. One member of the audience pointed out to me, though, if such decisions are largely made on a discretionary basis, then this probably amounts to no due process at all for suspects.

Since then, I've finished the marking for my new module on policing in a global context. Since this module drew to a close, a few students have reported to me how much they enjoyed it, saying it was one of the most interesting ones that they have taken during their time in Sheffield. I hope this is true across the board. Thanks are definitely due to my colleague, Matthew Bacon, who led all the seminars for the module and who helped enhance students' experiences and understanding no end.

Recently, I also had a great opportunity to shadow a police custody inspection. This involved observing and talking to staff from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons, as they went about their business of jointly inspecting police custody facilities in one police service. These inspection processes were not in place when I conducted my research on police custody in 2006/7 and for this reason it was extremely interesting to see how they were approached. Thanks are due to all those who made it possible for me to accompany these inspectors. The reports from all of the inspections conducted over the last three years are publicly available and provide a vital window into this aspect of policing.