5 September 2019

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 2018/19, the IOPC recorded a total of 276 deaths during or following police contact. Of these deaths 16 were in or following police custody, three were police shootings, 42 related to road traffic incidents, 63 were apparent suicides following custody and there were 152 deaths following police contact defined as ‘other’.

The IOPC report includes the following data:

  • Of the 16 deaths in or following police custody, 10 people were identified as having ‘mental health concerns’ and 13 were known to have a link to alcohol/or drugs. 15 people were white and one person was black.
  • Six of the 16 people who died in or following police custody had force used against them either by officers or members of the public before their deaths.
  • There were 42 road traffic fatalities, an increase of 13 on last year and the highest figure in the past decade.
  • Of the 63 apparent suicides, seven had been detained under the mental health act and 47 had known ‘mental health concerns’.

Of the ‘other’ deaths following police contact (152):

  • Seven people were under 18.
  • Eight had force used against them, of which two were black and two were ‘Mixed heritage’.
  • Over half (90) were reported to be intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the incident or had known issues in this area.
  • 104 were reported to have ‘mental health concerns’.

Recent inquests have highlighted failures or delays in the police recognising and responding to medical emergencies. That drugs, alcohol, and mental ill health remain a significant feature of so many recent deaths demonstrates a failure to ensure the implementation of learning from previous deaths.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: “The Angiolini review made pragmatic recommendations to ensure safer responses to people with mental ill health and addictions. Two years on the government reports little progress in these areas. The fact that the majority of recent deaths relate to these vulnerabilities shows the cost of such failures, and the importance of a public health focused response.

At a time when all political parties are promising additional police on the streets, our ongoing casework shows that more police numbers are not the answer to public safety. Ultimately to prevent further deaths and harm, we must look beyond policing and redirect resources into community, health, welfare and specialist services.”



For further information contact Sarah Uncles on 020 7263 1111 or email.

View the full IOPC report here.

For more detailed definitions in relation to the IOPC categories, see the guidance document. Please not that ‘deaths in or following police custody’ are only those where the individual was arrested.

Last year, the IOPC statics showed the highest number of deaths in or following police custody for 14 years. Of the 23 deaths, 12 people had mental health concerns.  Media release.

Since the end of the IOPC statistics reporting period on 31 March 2019, INQUEST casework and monitoring has recorded a further eight deaths in or following police contact. Of these deaths, five were in police custody, three were road traffic incidents and two following police pursuit. Half of these deaths had Metropolitan police involvement.

In October 2017 the landmark Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC was published. In December 2018, the Home Office published a report on progress on deaths in police custody.

In December 2018, the Home Office published the first national statistics on police use of force (April 2017-March 2018). Black people were overrepresented, as subject in 12% of incidents but representing only 3.3% of the general population. See INQUEST media release for more information.”

Since the release of the previous IOPC statistics ending April 2018, the following inquests into police related deaths have concluded:

Nuno Cardoso, 25, died in November 2017. Officers suspected Nuno may have something in his mouth but did not take him to hospital, as police guidance at that time required. Nuno deteriorated in the police van on the way to the station and died in hospital later that day. Media release, July 2019.

Leroy Junior Medford, 43, died after swallowing drugs whilst in police custody in April 2017. The inquest jury returned a highly critical narrative conclusion identifying individual and systemic failures. Media release, June 2019.

Darren Cumberbatch, 32, died in hospital in July 2017, nine days after use of force by police officers while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. Inquest jury returned a narrative conclusion, finding that the police’s restraint contributed to his death. Media release, June 2019.

Adam Harris, 34, died in April 2018 after swallowing secreted drugs in police custody. He was not searched in the long period between his arrest and arrival at the custody suite. Media release, June 2019.

Carl Maynard, 29, died from acute cocaine intoxication in October 2017. Inquest jury returned a critical narrative conclusion, finding that not taking him directly to hospital represented a ‘missed opportunity to increase Carl’s chance of survival’. Media release, June 2019.

Edson Da Costa, 25, died following police contact in June 2017 after he placed a package in his mouth and was restrained. Media release, June 2019.

Duncan Tomlin, 32, became unresponsive after being restrained by police and placed into a police van. He died in July 2014. The inquest jury concluded that his death was contributed to by neglect. Media release, April 2019.  

Raymond Knight, 55, informed officers that he felt unwell shortly after arrest. He suffered a seizure whilst in the holding cell and was taken to Basildon Hospital where he died on 19 November 2017. The inquest jury returned a short form conclusion of ‘drug-related’. Media release, April 2019.  

Meirion James, 53, died of positional asphyxia following excessive restraint by police. The inquest jury also found that there has been failures to communicated ‘significant information’ and follow procedures. Media release, January 2019.

Josh Pitt, 24, was fatally shot by armed Bedfordshire police officers on 9 November 2016 whilst experiencing a mental health crisis. The inquest jury concluded that the fatal shooting was ‘lawful killing’, as directed by the coroner. Media release, January 2019.

Adrian McDonald, 34, died in December 2014 after being arrested, restrained, bitten by a police dog, Tasered and left in a police van struggling to breathe following reported erratic behaviour. An inquest into his death concluded that his death was caused by the “effects of cocaine and stress of incident”. Media release, November 2018.

Terry Smith, 33, died in November 2013 following detention and restraint by Surrey Police. An inquest jury concluded that neglect contributed to his death. They also found a serious failure to recognise the signs and symptoms of Excited Delirium as a medical emergency and noted the use of prolonged and excessive restraint. Media release, July 2018.

Rashan Charles, 20, died following restraint by police in July 2017. The inquest jury found that his death was “accidental” and that the officer used “justified use of force” but did not take appropriate action for a medical emergency. Media release, June 2018.

Jordan Nathaniel Cooke, 23, died at home 16 hours after being released from police custody in January 2015 where he was placed on observations following serious attempts to self-harm. He was released from custody, prior to his pre-release custody risk assessment being completed. The inquest into his death found that there was an opportunity for mental health services to become involved had information been passed on. Media release, June 2018.