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Deaths in police custody at 10 year high

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has reported that the number of deaths in or following police custody is at its highest in 10 years, with 23 people having died in or following police custody in 2017 – 2018.

These statistics include deaths in a number of circumstances, including those that happened while a person was being arrested or taken into detention; those who had been arrested or detained under the Mental Health Act; where injuries that contributed to the death happened during the period of detention; deaths in or on the way to hospital; and as a result of injuries or other medical problems that are identified or develop while a person is in custody. 

12 of the 23 people were identified as having mental health concerns, such as psychosis or depression. Campaigners have commented that austerity is a contributing factor; with mental health services overwhelmed, all too often the police are the first point of contact for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

11 of the 23 people had been physically restrained. 6 incidents included methods of force including leg restraints, spit hoods, batons, incapacitant spray, and Taser.

The IOPC’s complete statistics on deaths during or following police contact for 2017/18 can be found here. At the time that the IOPC wrote their report, 22 of these cases were awaiting an inquest. All 23 are subject to independent investigation by the IOPC.

Clearly, the high number of these deaths over the last year is extremely concerning. The police must protect the welfare of those individuals in their custody. It is vital that full investigations take place, and that the families are able to properly engage with these processes – including having access to adequate public funding to do so.

Civil Liberties, Inquests, and Civil Actions Against the Police Specialist Legal Advice, Saunders Law

At Saunders Law, we offer expert legal assistance and representation in matters arising from deaths in state custody, including in Inquest proceedings and resulting civil claims. We appreciate that circumstances like these are exceptionally difficult and that everyone’s experience is different, and we are used to adapting our service to make sure that it meets our clients’ needs.

All of our solicitors within the Civil Liberties and Actions against the Police Department have extensive experience in this area.

Should you be looking for advice in this or a related area, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no-obligation, initial discussion to see if we might be able to help. You can call us on 020 3811 3592 or make an enquiry online.

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