9th July 2012

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has published its statistics for deaths during or following contact with the police from April 1 2011 - March 31 2012, available here.

In response , Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“The figures reveal a disturbing number of people who despite being clearly vulnerable or in distress have been taken into police custody rather than to a hospital or specialist mental health unit. This reflects INQUEST’s ongoing concerns about the way people with mental health issues are dealt with by the police, many of which are being scrutinised currently at the inquest into the death of Sean Rigg.

“We have raised this issue time and again. Urgent questions must be asked as to why such extremely vulnerable people are ending up in police cells which are so clearly inappropriate and dangerous places for them.

“The figures also highlight a disturbing number of restraint-related deaths. The dangers of restraint techniques have been well-documented as a result of previous deaths, and it is shocking and concerning that over half of those who died in or following police custody had been restrained. The investigations and inquests into these deaths must fully scrutinise the use of force in these tragic cases. “Whilst there was a fall in the number of deaths in or following police custody or contact with the police there was in fact a rise in these deaths the previous year so we should be wary of viewing this as a continuing trend. What is essential is that these deaths are subjected to robust and transparent investigation in order to ensure those responsible are held to account and action taken to prevent further deaths.”