25 July 2018

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has today released their annual statistics on deaths during or following police contact in England and Wales.

In the financial year 2017/18, the IOPC recorded a total of 283 deaths following police contact. Of these deaths there were 23 in or following police custody, four police shootings (three of which were terrorism related), 29 relating to road traffic incidents, 57 apparent suicides following custody and 170 ‘other’ deaths following police contact.

During this period, black people have been significantly overrepresented in deaths following the use of force by the police.

The IOPC report includes the following data:

  • There were 23 deaths in or following police custody, the highest figure recorded in the past 14 years, and an increase of nine since last year.
  • Four people who died in or following police custody were detained under the Mental Health Act.
  • Seventeen of the people who died in or following police custody or other contact were restrained or had force used against them by the police or others before their deaths. Of these 17 people, nine were White and eight were Black.
  • 11 of the 23 people who died in police custody had some use of force used against them by officers or by members of the public.
  • 12 of the 23 people who died in or following police custody had mental health concerns, and 18 had links to drugs and/or alcohol.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: “These figures, the highest for over a decade, are an indictment of the failing systems of investigation, learning and accountability which follow police related deaths.

Too many highly vulnerable people with mental ill health and addictions are ending up in the criminal justice system. The solution does not lie within policing. Many of these preventable deaths illustrate the impact of austerity and the historic underfunding of health and community services.

 The disproportionality in the use of force against black people adds to the irrefutable evidence of structural racism embedded in policing practices.

Following the Angiolini review, this has been a year of widespread promises of change and learning lessons. Clearly real systemic change remains to be seen.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

For more information contact the communications team on 020 7463 1111 or here.

See INQUEST’s live stats on deaths in contact with police, from monitoring and casework by INQUEST. Note: IOPC statistics use financial years whereas INQUEST has a rolling record of annual statistics.

Since the end of the IOPC statistics reporting period on 31 March 2018, INQUEST casework and monitoring has recorded a further nine deaths in or following police contact. Of these deaths, seven were in police custody, one was a shooting and one was following police pursuit.

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

In October 2017 the landmark Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC was published. Commissioned by Theresa May when she was home secretary, the reviews recommendations included tackling discrimination, through recognition of the disproportionate number of deaths of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups following restraint and the role of institutional racism, both within IPCC (now IOPC) investigations and police training.

In January 2018, the Independent Office for Police Conduct replaced the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Dame Anne Owers, the outgoing IPCC chair, urged for the relationship between ethnicity and use of force to be looked at closely.

In March 2018, the death of Kevin Clarke was the first significant restraint case referred to the newly established Independent Office for Police Conduct. In May, the IOPC announced nine police officers are under investigation for gross misconduct.

In April 2018, The United Nations commented on ‘structural racism’ being rooted at the heart of British society. The group of human rights experts cited police data showing a disproportionate number of people from ethnic minorities died as a result of excessive force.

RESTRAINT RELATED DEATHS OF BLACK PEOPLE
During this reporting period 2017/2018, INQUEST are aware of six restraint related deaths of black men:

  • 21 June 2017 - Edson Da Costa, 25, died in Newham, East London following restraint by police six days earlier.
  • 19 July 2017 - Darren Cumberbatch, 32, died in Nuneaton, Warwickshire following restraint by police.
  • 15 July 2017 - Shane Bryant, 29, died in Leicestershire following restraint by members of public and police two days earlier.
  • 22 July 2017 - Rashan Charles, 20, died in Hackney, East London following restraint by police.
  • 24 November 2017 - Nuno Cardoso, 25, died in Oxford following restraint by police. 
  • 9 March 2018 – Kevin Clarke, 35, died in Lewisham, South London following restraint by police.

On 9 April 2017 – A black woman in her 50’s (who has not yet been named publicly) died in Cheshire several days after being arrested and restrained with leg shackles.

The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles concluded last month. The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles concluded last month. The other investigations are ongoing and pending inquests.

MENTAL HEALTH AD RESTRAINT

ACCOUNTABILITY

There have also been a number of conclusions in police misconduct hearings and trials that have led bereaved families to question the state of learning and accountability processes.

There has never been a successful prosecution of a police officer for a death in custody.