Accountability in the aftermath of police related deaths in the US and England and Wales: processes and outcomes

Baker, David ORCID: 0000-0001-8651-865X
(2022) Accountability in the aftermath of police related deaths in the US and England and Wales: processes and outcomes. POLICING-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF POLICE STRATEGIES & MANAGEMENT, 45 (4). pp. 556-569.

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<jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Purpose</jats:title><jats:p>The article examines the apparent absence of accountability in the aftermath of police related deaths (PRDs) in the US and England and Wales. It considers regulatory mechanisms such as investigations by independent regulators and internal affairs departments; and legal mechanisms such as cases heard in criminal, civil and coroners' courts. The processes used by these approaches, and outcomes produced are examined in terms of their perceived effectiveness in holding police to account.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Design/methodology/approach</jats:title><jats:p>The article considers qualitative research based on interviews undertaken with the relatives of 59 people who died as a result of police contact in both countries. The research examined how families attempted to pursue justice and accountability in the aftermath of the death of a relative.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Findings</jats:title><jats:p>Whilst the mechanisms of legal and regulatory accountability employed in each country are somewhat different, the outcomes they produce are remarkably similar: few officers are sanctioned in the aftermath of such deaths in either country. The article argues these mechanisms can provide a façade of accountability in terms of process, but not in terms of outcome. They enable systemic issues that produce police related deaths to go more or less unchanged.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Research limitations/implications</jats:title><jats:p>As the research project is highly original, there are necessarily limitations in terms of the generalisability of its findings because it represents the subjective views of participants affected by PRDs. The article suggests that further research be conducted to extend our understanding of issues related to PRDs.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Practical implications</jats:title><jats:p>The article argues that the investigation and regulation of PRDs in both countries is essentially flawed. Consequently, there needs to be a fundamental rethink of how such deaths are investigated, and how police could be better held to account for PRDs.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Social implications</jats:title><jats:p>Without significant change to the processes and outcomes that occur in the aftermath of PRDs, it is argued that the legitimacy of police and the criminal justice system will continue to be questioned.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Originality/value</jats:title><jats:p>There is no known empirical academic research into PRDs that considers the views of family members in both the US and England and Wales. As such, the article produces unique insights from the perspectives of relatives of those who have died following contact with the police.</jats:p></jats:sec>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Police, Use of lethal force, Accountability, Regulation
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law and Social Justice
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 14:23
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:04
DOI: 10.1108/PIJPSM-08-2021-0115
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