In this seminar I explore why detainees in police custody decline free and
independent legal advice when it is offered to them on arrival at the police
station. To do this, I draw on three kinds of data (participant-observation,
interviews and custody records) collected in a predominantly privatised
police custody area in the South-East of England. Detainees' decisions to
decline legal advice were shaped by their perceptions of it (e.g. how long
they would have to wait to consult with a solicitor). These perceptions were
in turn affected by the practices of solicitors (e.g. only attending the
police station immediately prior to detainees' interviews) and the practices
of police and private security staff (e.g. their use of informal
conversations and negative stereotypes about solicitors). To conclude I
examine the implications of the research for police-solicitor relationships,
the privatisation of the police custody process and importantly detainees'
access to justice.