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INQUEST response to government announcement that it is establishing an independent review into deaths of 18-24 year olds in custody
Thursday 6 February 2014
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“We welcome the government’s belated recognition that there is a need for independent scrutiny of the deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison. INQUEST and the families we work with have been calling for an independent review since October 2012 when we launched Fatally Flawed - our joint report with Prison Reform Trust.
“However it is shameful that the deaths of children under the age of 18 are excluded from this review given that some of the most compelling evidence about systemic failings is raised by these cases. The narrow remit of the review is also a cause for concern – the journey into custody is as relevant to the deaths of these young people as what happens to them inside prison walls. A review is the only way to examine the reasons young people end up in the criminal justice system in the first place as it is beyond the remit of the investigation and inquest process.
“This is a missed opportunity to conduct a wide ranging and holistic independent review, with the effective involvement of families, that would contribute to preventing future deaths in prison. We will be raising our concerns with the Prisons Minister at the meeting of the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody next week.”
Notes to editors:
1. Today, the Government has announced there will be a review into the deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison. This was announced in a Written Ministerial Statement and the full terms of reference can be found on the MoJ’s website: www.justice.gov.uk/about/deaths-in-custody-independent-review.
2. INQUEST’s briefing on the need for an independent review into the deaths of children and young people can be accessed here.
‘You have clearly made yourselves a force to be reckoned with, a powerful instrument for good. In the process you have not only achieved real change in an aspect of our common life which would have commanded little attention or esteem were it not for your efforts, but you have at the same time offered enormous support to those bereaved people who long for a clear verdict on the death in custody of someone who means a great deal to them.’
– Dr Peter Selby, President of the National Council for Independent Monitoring Boards