Situation and participant characteristics, prison strain and collusion in prison hostage takings
thesisposted on 28.10.2022, 14:24 authored by Carol A Bond
Hostage taking in prisons in England and Wales presents risks to both staff and prisoners and understanding such incidents is important to inform the development of appropriate management tactics and strategies. There has been no published data on this topic in over 30 years, moreover current explanations for prison hostage taking inadequately account for the behaviour observed by prison staff. This thesis aims to fill the gap by addressing three main areas, i) exploring the situational and participant characteristics of prison hostage incidents, ii) considering prison hostage incidents as a type of prison indiscipline influenced by prison strain and iii) examining the phenomenon of collaboration (collusion) between participants, framing it as a form of co-offending. Using secondary data from Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service* (HMPPS) incident recording system, all hostage incidents in prisons in England and Wales were analysed, using descriptive and inferential statistics. The results revealed strong parallels between community and prison incidents and systematic differences between perpetrators, hostages and those who collude. Furthermore, there are associations between variables linked to prison strain and the incidence of hostage takings. The study concludes that prison hostage takings and collusion can be thought of as a response to prison strain, providing an explanation consistent with the instrumental/expressive continuum used to explain community incidents. Implications for professional practice are discussed and recommendations for further research are made.