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Concerns continue about deaths in police custody about deaths in police custody

It has been reported in the media that a man has sadly died after being restrained by the police in a London arrest. The Metropolitan Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) stated that the man appeared to be having a mental health crisis and footage from body-worn cameras has apparently shown that he was in an agitated state. The IOPC have said that the man was restrained at the scene and then an ambulance was called and paramedics had arrived by the time he became unwell. He was taken by ambulance to Lewisham hospital where he died.

Figures published by the charity INQUEST have revealed that to date there have been 1649 deaths in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police in England and Wales since 1990. In 2017 alone, there were 13 deaths following contact with the Metropolitan Police, and a total of 49 across all police forces in England and Wales.  

An Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini was published by the Home Office in October 2017. Among its important recommendations was the better treatment of vulnerable people, including through proper resourcing of national healthcare facilities to accommodate and respond to vulnerable people in urgent physical or mental health need coming into contact with the police. Last year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (replaced by the IOPC in January 2018) said that police officers should not restrain people with suspected mental health problems. It is concerning that there has been another death less than six months after the publication of the Angiolini review. The number of deaths in police custody points to the fact that the current system is in desperate need of review, especially with regards the treatment of vulnerable individuals suffering from mental health problems.

As well as an investigation by the IOPC, an Article 2 Inquest is usually also held in deaths that occur during or after police contact, , so called because the circumstances of the death  triggers the investigative duty contained within Article 2 of the Human Rights Act which pertains to the “right to life”. Article 2 inquests generally involve a more detailed examination of the circumstances and what happened in the lead up to the death.  

Coroner’s Inquests Specialist Legal Advice

At Saunders Law, we offer expert legal assistance and representation in inquests and inquiries into non-natural deaths. We’re well-known for our inquest work and thorough approach to complex cases. Nia Williams is currently representing the family of Terry Smith who died following restraint in police custody, and she and her team represent a number of other families whose relatives have died in similar circumstances. 

If you feel that you may benefit from a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of something that has happened to you or your family, please contact us.

Call us on 020 3811 3293 or make an enquiry online.

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