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‘ A Form of Questioning ’ Using witness screening questionnaires in mass-disorder. Detective Inspector Jez Prior 00 (44) 7876 790997

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A Form of Questioning’

Using witness screening questionnaires in mass-disorder

Detective Inspector Jez Prior

00 (44) 7876 790997

ACPO Approved Interview Adviser

[email protected]


The background
The Background

  • Ford Prison – Cat D minimal security ‘Open’ Prison

  • Located in West Sussex

  • Capacity about 550 prisoners

  • Strict No alcohol policy


New years eve 2011
New Years Eve 2011

  • Nearly 750 prisoners on site

  • Two prison officers & four security officers

  • ‘Party’ atmosphere in certain parts of the prison

  • At about 8pm prison officers try and administer a breath test for one of the inmates who they suspect was drunk

  • Inmates Chase prison officers away

  • Inmates go on the rampage


The Riot

  • Prison officers run from prison

  • Minority of prisoners go on rampage

  • Police called but back-off

  • Takes over 12 hours for 150 riot officers to re-gain control

  • No fatalities £5.1M damage


The investigation
The Investigation

  • No Forensic

  • No CCTV

  • No Suspects arrested

  • Was clear that eye-witness evidence would solve the case

  • Witness issues –

  • 750 prisoners

  • 150 prison officers

  • 50 fire fighters

  • 50 Police officers


The interview strategy
The Interview Strategy

  • Key issues

  • Identify significant witnesses

  • Obligations under CPIA – all reasonable lines of enquiry

  • Prisoners moved all round the country

  • How to deal with witnesses who were serving prisoners


Questionnaires
Questionnaires

  • Bonuses – prison was a confined area

  • Information available that logged each of

  • All prisoners in Ford prison at time

  • All prison officers who attended

  • All fire fighters

  • All police officers


Questionnaires1
Questionnaires

  • Four different types – one each for

  • Prisoners

  • Prison officers who attended riot

  • Fire fighters

  • Police Officers


Questionnaires2
Questionnaires

  • Serving Prisoners…considerations

ABLE TO READ/WRITE?

UNTAINTED

ACCOUNT

PRISONERS

SAFE PLACE

INTIMIDATION



Key to success
Key to Success

  • Prison Governor attached to the enquiry – advised on many aspects of safe access

  • Prison Governor advised on engagement with those who couldn’t read or write

  • Questionnaire went to every prisoner – so as to not identify a ‘grass’

  • Process identified 10 significant witnesses

  • Different tactics used to obtain accounts


Outcome
Outcome

  • Eight prisoners gave evidence as witnesses at court

  • Five convicted of arson with intent to endanger life and for the first time ever – prison mutiny

  • All five received lengthy sentences


Key messages
Key Messages

  • Questionnaires can be very productive – similar to house to house questionnaires frequently used - But not an excuse for laziness!

  • Keep questions open

  • Help witnesses de-taint themselves

  • Identify others who can help – prison governor / ISVA


  • Thank you

  • Jez Prior

  • [email protected]

  • + 44 (0) 7876 790997


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