Psychopathology in police custody: the role of importation, deprivation and interaction models
People experiencing mental illness are over-represented among police cell detainees, however limited work has sought to investigate the occurrence of psychopathology in police custody. The present study sought to examine the predictive power of personal factors (e.g., history of psychiatric hospitalisation), situational factors (e.g., police cell conditions), and their interactive effects to explain the occurrence of psychopathology in police custody. A total of 150 detainees were recruited from two metropolitan police stations in Melbourne, Australia. Personal factors were significantly associated with psychiatric symptomatology, with situational factors and interaction terms yielding no association. Detainees with preexisting vulnerabilities and those unsatisfied with police cell conditions demonstrated the highest levels of psychopathology. While all detainees experience some difficulties in police cells, it is those with pre-existing vulnerabilities that suffer the most. This may be due to the exacerbation of vulnerabilities by police cell conditions. The implications of these findings for provision of health care services in police cells are discussed.