Joanne Caffrey


National Expert Witness for Criminal, Civil & Coroner's Court Cases

I currently work as a national Expert Witness for criminal, civil and coroner's court cases for the use of force, management of challenging behaviour and custody cases (police and prison).

‘Safer Custody’ refers to the safeguarding of staff and prisoners/detainees within the custodial system, from the moment of arrest to detention in police custody, to detention at courts of law, detention within prisons and all associated transport in between. 

‘Safer Custody’ aims to prevent, or reduce to the minimum, deaths or injuries connected with self-harm, suicide, use of force, underlying medical conditions, head injuries, malicious or accidental incidents.  The whole process is holistically governed by the principles of ‘Safer Custody’, regardless of which institution, or agent, is providing the service.

‘Safer Custody’ covers a wide variety of issues for safeguarding the staff, the service users and others, which are applicable for police and prison custody, court custody and contractor transport companies.

Safer Custody includes:

  • Custody staffing and training levels

  • Custody paperwork

  • Risk assessment processes for condition of detainee/prisoner

  • Building risk assessments, eg ligature points, alarm systems, fire safety

  • Information sources, eg PNC, PNR

  • Health conditions, administration of medication and use of health care providers

  • Control and use of restraint techniques

  • Transportation, eg fleet management issues, PECs (prison escort and custody services)

  • Management and supervision, eg visits and rousing

  • Equality and individual needs, eg females, juveniles, disabilities, foreign nationals

  • Healthcare and medication needs

  • Cell occupancy

  • Out of cells – exercise, showers, visits or interviews

  • Hygiene, eg bedding, toilets, clothing and cleaning

  • Food safety – choking assessments, food hygiene

  • Dependencies – alcohol, drugs

  • Mental health – assessments, medical needs, adaptations

  • Technology – CCTV, audio recording

  • Deaths or injuries in custody procedures

  • Specific conditions such as Acute Behaviour Disturbance, excited delirium, positional asphyxia, head injuries, infections and communicable diseases

  • Custody clinical setting environments

  • Sector specific national guidance – prison Service PSI & PSIs and Police PACE Codes of Practice.

  • Custody contingency planning

These principles are not just relevant to custody and many recent cases I have worked on have included these areas of expertise for education, care, clinical and security settings.

The above is a summary of my recent article Safer Custody Police or Prison Establishments, published in Expert Witness Journal which is available as a White Paper.  Click here to access the full article.

I currently deliver training and consultancy to approximately 300 schools concerning challenging behaviour, use of force, physical intervention, special educational needs & disabilities, person centred care and medical needs.

I am licensed to deliver a variety of training and consultancy to the SIA and clinical sectors.