Police custody staff well-being across seven police forces

Research Institution / Organisation

Nottingham Trent University

Principal Researcher

Dr C. Robert M. Werner-de-Sondberg

Level of Research


Project Start Date

January 2015

Research Context

​Police custody is one of the most challenging of police environments, with the treatment of prisoners a particular source of public and media concern, especially regarding deaths in police custody, and where, as a consequence, every action by staff is recorded audibly and visually. These kinds of issues render staff vulnerable to poor well-being (where well-being is measured in terms of behavioural and/or psychosocial goals, low work-related stress, mental and subjective well-being, energy and engagement).

To explore these issues an integrated multilevel model of organisational culture and climate (IMMOCC) was developed as the basis for a multilevel survey (including space for open comments at the end). This has targeted four roles of Custody Inspector, Custody Sergeant, Detention Officer (public and private) and Custody Officer Assistant.

Initial results support the IMMOCC approach, and draw attention to three key findings:

  1. High levels of pervasive negative feelings for all staff; 
  2. Poor well-being outcomes for custody sergeants (both able to be targeted for improvement); and 
  3. Support for 12 hour shifts as a link to well-being, instead of the shorter variable shifts. Final results will follow in due course.

Research Methodology

​While analyses are continuing, this has been a two year study into police custody staff well-being across seven police forces (i.e. four surveys, each five months apart). It has applied a multi-strategy approach involving a multilevel survey (with space for open comments at the end), use of an advisory group, and constant feedback to custody personnel at every stage of the research. Analytic strategies include: multilevel analysis; theoretical thematic analysis; and multiple case study analysis. Study engagement over the two years has numbered 330 people (a return rate of 46.15%), which provided a data set of 368.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

September 2018
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