7 November 2019

Dalian Atkinson died on 15 August 2016 aged 48, following use of force by officers of West Mercia police, including restraint and Taser. Today (7 November 2019) the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have announced that criminal charges will be brought against two officers. The charges are, in respect of one officer, murder and manslaughter, and in respect of a second officer section 47 Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 (Actual Bodily Harm).

The decision comes just over a year after the case was referred to the CPS by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), who had conducted a criminal investigation over a period of 16 months. The IOPC has a statutory duty to investigate deaths following police contact.

No police officer involved in a death in custody or following police contact has been found guilty of murder or manslaughter since INQUEST began monitoring in 1990.

The family has been informed that the officers have not been named because they have indicated that they will ask the court to grant them anonymity. It is hoped the court will swiftly rule on this.

On behalf of the family, solicitor Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose, said: “Dalian’s family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died. They ask for their privacy to be respected and press for the criminal proceedings to progress without delay or obstruction.”

Neither the family or their solicitors will be making any further comment at this time.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “The hope of many bereaved families, that police officers involved in a death are held to account to a criminal standard, is too often denied. As such, today’s decision from the Crown Prosecution Service - though long awaited - is welcome.

Two years ago, an independent review of deaths in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC highlighted the negative impact of delays in investigations and prosecutions like this. Angiolini recommended that such cases be dealt with in the same time scales as a civilian homicide case. Clearly there is still much work to be done to meet those standards.

We hope the next stages of this prosecution are pursued promptly and that the upmost scrutiny of the actions of these officers is ensured. The death of Dalian Atkinson following use of force and Taser by police raises concerns of significant public interest, not least at a time when we are seeing the increased arming of police with Tasers.”


For further information please contact INQUEST Communications Team on 020 7263 1111 or email Lucy; email Sarah

The family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members, Kate Maynard and Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose solicitors, and Fiona Murphy of Doughty Street Chambers and Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers. They are working with INQUEST Senior Caseworker, Anita Sharma.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) became the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in January 2018.

The Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini was published by the Home Office on 30 October 2017. More information.



Since 1990, when INQUEST began recording, no police officer has been found guilty of murder or manslaughter following a death in police contact or custody. In ten cases since 1990, murder or manslaughter charges have been brought against police officers. In all cases trials have collapsed or officers have been acquitted by the jury.

Murder and manslaughter charges following deaths

  • Thomas OrchardA Custody Sergeant and two Detention Officers (civilian staff) involved in the death following use of force of Thomas in October 2012 were charged with unlawful act manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter. All were acquitted, despite the critical evidence heard at the trial, in March 2017. (For subsequent Health and Safety prosecution see below.)
  • Azelle RodneyOn 30 July 2014, the CPS concluded there was sufficient evidence and that it was in the public interest for an officer, who shot and killed Azelle Rodney on 30 April 2005, to be prosecuted for murder. This followed a public inquiry into the death. Despite the deeply critical findings of the inquiry, the officer was found not guilty by a majority verdict from a jury on 3 July 2015.
  • Ian Tomlinson – In April 2009 Ian Tomlinson died after being struck by a police officer during a protest. A prosecution was brought against the officer who struck him, who was charged with manslaughter. In July 2017 the officer was found not guilty, despite the critical conclusions of the inquest into Ian’s death.
  • Michelle Wood – Michelle was found dead after being released from police custody in February 2003. Three police officers were charged with gross negligence manslaughter but were found not guilty by a jury in April 2005.
  • Robin Goodenough – Robin died in September 2003 after being stopped by police. Three officers were charged with manslaughter and ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’. In November 2005 one officer was cleared of all charges and two faced retrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. In July 2006, a subsequent trial acquitted the two officers of the latter charges.
  • Christopher Alder The CPS initially decided there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against the officers involved in Christopher’s death in 1998. Following a review of the medical evidence, officers were charged with manslaughter in March 2002. In June 2002 the trial collapsed when the judge ordered the jury to find the officers not guilty on all charges. More information.
  • James Ashley – After James was fatally shot by police in 1998, a Sussex police officer was charged with murder and manslaughter in April 1999. Four other Sussex officers involved were charged with misconduct in public office. The trials collapsed and no officer was found guilty.
  • Criminal trials were also brought in the case of David Ewin who was fatally shot by police in 1995, Richard O’Brien who died in contact with police in 1994, and Joy Gardner who died in 1993. In all cases all officers involved were acquitted at trial in the mid 1990s.

Both successful and unsuccessful prosecutions have also been brought following deaths in police contact under Health and Safety legislation: 

  • Thomas Orchard - On 3 May 2019 the Office of the Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police was found guilty and sentenced for health and safety breaches which came to light following the death of Thomas Orchard in October 2012. Media release.
  • Anthony Grainger - The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), as the corporation sole, was charged under Health and Safety at Work Act after Anthony Grainger was fatally shot by GMP on 3 March 2012. However, in January 2015 an ‘abuse of process’ argument from the police was accepted and the charges were dropped. A public inquiry, which was published in July 2019, followed. Media release.
  • Jean Charles de Menezes - The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commissioner was prosecuted under for 'failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes’. The MPS, on behalf of the office of the Commissioner, pleaded not guiltyto the charges. On 1 November 2007, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in his official capacity was found guilty.

Other criminal charges against officers, such as perjury and misconduct in public office, have been brought following deaths in custody, but most have led to acquittals or not guilty verdicts. One exception is that in March 2007, a Derbyshire police officer who failed to check on a man in police custody, despite signing forms stating that he had, was found guilty of misconduct in public office. The man, Craig Boyd, was found dead in a police cell on 16 March 2004.