Here we outline INQUEST's priorities for the period 2018 to 2021, the year of our 40th anniversary. This is our official strategic plan. It highlights our mission, our goals, the key projects on which we will work, how we will deliver these projects and our operational plans.

INQUEST is the only independent charity in the UK which offers, following a state-related death, specialist legal, practical and emotional support to the families of those who have died. Our goal is to end deaths caused by unsafe systems of detention, the use of force, a lack of care and by institutional and multi-agency failures. Where a death has occurred, we work to ensure that the investigation process enables families to secure justice. We also work to influence policy through generating fundamental and far-reaching change in the investigation, inquest and prosecutorial processes.

Founded in 1981, following family campaigns to ensure truth, justice and accountability in the inquest process, INQUEST works to empower families, who are at the heart of our casework, in order to ensure that their voices are heard. We wish to see a fundamental transformation so that the deceased and their families are treated based on the principles of social justice, seeking dissemination of the issues arising from our casework and evidence-based research and policy work to the widest possible audience.

Our Campaigns

All our work is directed towards achieving the following four key aims:

Access to justice for families –equality of arms through developing a system which treats bereaved families with dignity and respect and supports them in navigating the legal process following a death and to achieve the truth;

Visibility with respect to all systems of care and detention – so that failures are exposed and changes can be made;

An end to all institutionalised forms of racism and discrimination – too often a root cause of system failure, individual neglect or violence; these must be recognised and addressed;

Accountability for institutional failings and failure to act – effective sanctions and ‘accountable learning’, so that real and relevant action is taken to reduce the number of deaths in future.

The changes we want to see 2018-2021

Access to justice for families

Between 2018 and 2021, INQUEST wants:

  • Automatic non-means tested public funding for all bereaved families in state-related inquests as recommended by the Angiolini and Bishop’s Reviews, the Bach Commission and the Chief Coroner’s Annual Report;
  • Stronger networks, tools, guidance and support for bereaved families so that they can achieve truth, justice and accountability, dignity, respect, justice and system change;
  • Embedded and transparent structures of accountability across all state institutions and private providers.

Visibility with respect to all systems of care and detention

As the only charity in the UK focusing on the investigation of contentious deaths, our oversight, expertise and casework mean that we are uniquely positioned to understand weaknesses, gaps and failings in the system – and to identify what needs to fundamentally change in order to prevent future deaths. Between 2018 and 2021, INQUEST wants:

  • Private providers to be under the same scrutiny as public providers, with the long-term objective of removing private provision from state institutions;
  • Accurate and public information to be readily available on all deaths in care and detention;
  • Independent investigations of all deaths in mental health and learning disability cases;
  • Minimisation of the use of force in custody and detention.

An end to all institutionalised forms of racism and discrimination

Between 2018 and 2021, INQUEST will work to ensure that:

  • Institutional racism and sexism in state custody remain under close scrutiny;
  • People with mental ill-health are kept safe and in therapeutic care;
  • The inappropriate use of prison for women ends;
  • There are, transparent, independent investigations around all deaths in mental health care and detention;
  • Particular attention is given to the deaths of children, young people and women in mental health settings;
  • LGBT people are protected when in the custody of the state;
  • Older prisoners receive adequate care and treatment for the various issues that they face within state institutions.

Accountability for institutional failings and the failure to act

Between 2018 and 2021, INQUEST wants to see:

  • An independent, public body established, with the power to oversee recommendations arising from post death investigations and inquests;
  • More prosecutions at an individual and corporate level in cases of institutional failure through the use of the Corporate Manslaughter Act and Health & Safety legislation;
  • More individual sanctions for abuses of office.

Further information on our specialist focus and values is available here.

BANNER IMAGE CREDIT: Zethu Maseko 2018