Overdue report for Deaths in Custody

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has come under pressure this month for failing to publish a report on deaths and serious incidents in police custody.  In a letter published in The Guardian, a coalition of activist groups called on the Home Secretary to release the report immediately.

The report concludes the work of an independent review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody commissioned in 2015 by Theresa May in her role as Home Secretary at the time.  In a Home Office speech published on 23 July 2015, Theresa May spoke of families who seek “compassion and redress” from the police following the death of their loved ones in police custody but who are met by “evasiveness and obstruction”.

The purpose of the review and subsequent report is to examine the procedures and processes surrounding deaths and serious incidents in police custody.  In particular the review will examine the lead up to those incidents, the immediate aftermath, the conclusion of official investigations and whether people from ethnic minorities are more at risk.  The aim is to promote transparency within the police service and ensure that justice is delivered where appropriate for bereaved families.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) produce an annual statistical report which includes deaths in or following police custody.  The report shows a general decrease in the number of deaths since its initial publication in 2004/05 in which 36 deaths were reported. This figure has dropped to 17 in 2014/15, 14 in 2015/16 and 14 2016/17.

The report on deaths and serious incidents in police custody is a year overdue with its publication originally set for Summer 2016.  At the time of writing there has been no response from the Home Secretary.  According to the Home Office the review was submitted to the Home Secretary on 30 June 2017 and will be published in due course.

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