Accountability

"What gets measured gets done".

This section supports developers / commissioners and partners in considering how to monitor and evaluate AA provision. The challenge should not be underestimated and this will be a critical element in the ultimate effectiveness of any scheme.

Monitoring

The following are examples of metrics used by commissioners in contract management. While they provide important information about process and output, and in some cases provide proxies for quality, they should not be assumed to provide information on outcomes. 

  • Number of requests made to AA service
  • Number of requests when AA identified
  • Number of requests when AA not identified
  • Reasons why an AA could not be identified
  • Number of requests cancelled by police
  • Number of requests by time of day requested
  • Time between request and identification of AA
  • Time between identification of AA and attendance at police station
  • Number of AA arrivals over [X] minutes from booking in and explanation
  • Number of requests made to AA service by detention vs voluntary interview
  • Number of instances where an interpreter is required
  • Number of instances in which a legal representative was not present and explanation
  • Procedures completed e.g. rights, searches, samples, interview, charge
  • Equality monitoring (ethnicity, gender, disability)
  • Number of requests for information on volunteering to be an AA
  • Number of AAs trained / registered available
  • Number of hours of initial training for AAs
  • Number of hours of supervision for AAs
  • Number of hours of professional development
  • Time volunteers spent in Police Stations
  • Time volunteers spent travelling
  • Volunteer turnover
  • Case studies demonstrating the impact of the AA
  • Information that would demonstrate the satisfaction of people supported
  • Evidence of creative stakeholder participation in the design and running of the service, including AAs and groups being supported
  • Number of complaints/compliments received by the service during the period
  • Number of complaints/compliments ongoing and number resolved
  • Number of safeguarding reports received and /or safeguarding concerns identified by the service during the period, details of actions taken and outcomes
  • Any disciplinary action taken by the service provider relevant to the provision of the service
on Thursday December 21 by Chris Bath
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There is significant potential for ICVs to play a role in monitoring AA provision. This is the central reason why a person should not be both an AA and an ICV in the same police force area. 

The role of the ICV, (originally known as lay visitors), was established after the 1981 riots and the resultant Scarman report, citing that there should be some independent oversight of the treatment of those held in police detention.

The fundamental role of an ICV is to check on the welfare of detainees held in police custody. Conversations must focus on ascertaining whether or not detainees have been offered their rights and entitlements, checking health and wellbeing and confirming whether the conditions of detention are adequate.

ICVs are always volunteers and are members of the local community who visit police custody suites to observe, comment and report on the conditions under which persons are detained. All visits are carried out in pairs, and are always unannounced at any time of the day or night.

Challenges

It should not be assumed that ICVs will currently be monitoring either the identification of need for an AA or the provision of one. This may have to be the subject of discussion with ICV volunteers and the scheme manager. 

Currently ICVs only cover police custody, so they may be unable to monitor AA provision relating to voluntary attendance, even if it occurs at a police station. 

ICVs do not have access to police interviews, a critically important part of the AA's role. 

Governance framework for ICVs

Police and Crime Commissioners in England, Wales, the City of London, the Scottish Police Authority and the Northern Ireland Policing Board and have a statutory obligation to create, manage, train and report on their independent custody visiting schemes.

The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) is an umbrella body that leads, supports and represents independent custody visiting schemes. ICVA is a member of the UK National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The NPM was established in 2009 to strengthen the protection of people in detention through independent monitoring and works to OPCAT. The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is an international human rights treaty designed to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty.

Resources

on Friday January 05 by Chris Bath
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Inspection

The inspection framework for AAs is significantly under-developed.

Non-organised AAs

There is no real accountability mechanism for AAs who act outside of organised schemes. This includes:

  • Parents
  • Partners
  • Other family members
  • Other supporters known to the individual (e.g. charity project workers)
  • Members of the public asked by the police to act as AA

They are not operating on behalf of any organisation and are not being paid for their services. This presents significant risks.

Note: the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice are clear in prioritising parents in the role of AA for children. 

Organised AA services for children

Ensuring the provision of AAs for children is a statutory duty of youth offending teams. HMI Probation is responsible for carrying out inspections of YOTs. However, their inspections and subsequent reports do not currently cover AA provision. 

Organised AA service for adults

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice prioritise people with relevant skills and experience in the role of AA for adults, and require police to contact an AA. However, there is currently no statutory duty on any authority or agency to ensure provision of AAs for adults.

AA services do not fall within the scope of any existing inspection arrangements.

Police custody

Inspections of police custody by HMI Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), HMI Prisons (HMIP) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regularly make comments on AA provision. Appropriate adults are mentioend several times in their published inspection criteria, the Expectations for Police Custody. However, it is important to note that these are inspections of the police. It is not currently within their scope to inspect AA services and they do not usually involve communication with AAs or scheme managers. They rely heavily on observations and discussions with police. 

 

on Friday January 05 by Chris Bath
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Evaluation

Evaluation should be as outcomes focused as possible, rather than relying on the (easier to measure) outputs.

This is the approach taken by HM Inspectorates.

Only with a clear understanding of whether outcomes are being met can developers / commissioners evaluate the quality and value for money of an AA scheme. For an AA scheme may send an AA to 99% of call outs within one hour - but do they do once they arrive? 

The relevant outcomes tie back directly to the risks to which a person may be vulnerable (see Need: Defining vulnerability), i.e. fair treatment and effective participation. Understanding what ought to be measured is the first step in developing measures for monitoring and evalualtion. 

Fair treatment

A person is treated fairly when they are treated in compliance with their legal rights and welfare entitlements under relevant international obligations, legislation, codes of practice and approved professional practice. These include, but are not limited to: -

  • freedom from abuse, bullying, threats, disrespectful treatment and neglect;
  • freedom from unlawful restraint;
  • an effective risk assessment by a qualified practitioner as soon as practicable and timely access to medical and mental health treatment;
  • access to support, plus information and advice in an appropriate format on how to access it;
  • being informed of the right to free legal advice;
  • having someone informed that they have been detained and where they are;
  • the right to silence;
  • suitable accommodation, with cells that are clean, warm and lit;
  • access to toilet and washing facilities;
  • breaks in questioning to allow for food, drinks and rest periods;
  • reasonable adjustments to standard provisions, criteria, practices or physical features to avoid disadvantage for people with a disability.

Effective participation

 A person is able to participate effectively when they: -

  • understand and are able to exercise their rights and entitlements (e.g. free legal advice, rest periods, food and drink, detention limits, presumption of bail);
  • understand what investigatory and detention procedures involve (including disposals and bail conditions), why they are taking place and their significance;
  • understand the meaning and significance of; what is said to them, questions put to them, their own replies;
  • do not provide unreliable, misleading or self-incriminating information, without knowing or wishing to do so;
  • do not accept or act on suggestions from others without consciously knowing or wishing to do so;
  • are not confused or unclear about their position;
  • are understood by police and other relevant professionals.

[1] Article 2 (Right to life) includes a duty to put in place appropriate systems designed to protect the lives of individuals in state detention. According to the ECHR (2015) 8, in relation to police detention, this includes but is not limited to bullet points 1-4 above.

[2] Equality Act 2010 s.28

on Thursday December 21 by Chris Bath
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