In this edition:

  • No funding no justice
  • Family campaigns leading the way
  • Questioning accountability
  • Unsafe prisons
  • ‘Don’t compromise’
  • Grenfell, one year on
  • Volunteer with INQUEST

INQUEST's expertise on state related deaths is in ever increasing demand. We continue to work alongside families to drive much needed changes in policy and practice to prevent further deaths and end unsafe systems of detention.

We currently have 878 open cases, 223 of which were opened in 2018. In the last two years, we have worked on a total of 1621 cases, including 1,101 new cases. This represents a 29% increase compared to the previous period.

INQUEST is entirely independent of government, and reliant on grants and donations to continue this vital work. Rachel Rumbol is running 10k to raise funds for INQUEST next Sunday, 15 July. If you'd like to support our small team, please consider sponsoring Rachel through JustGiving

Any amount you give will help us meet the high and growing demand for our help, advice and expertise.


Last month, the Exceptional Case Funding guidelines were updated so that the means test now only applies to the applicant and not the wider family. This is a modest step forward and will hopefully make the process faster and less intrusive. However, it is a long way from our call for non-means tested legal aid, endorsed in the Angiolini and Bishop’s reviews and by two Chief Coroners.

In the summer there will be a formal consultation and call for evidence launched on legal aid for inquests. We will be coordinating family evidence and family submissions. Please contact our family participation officer, Ayesha Carmouche, if you would like to be involved [email protected]


John O’Neill is entering the London Triathlon to raise money for INQUEST in memory of James Herbert and other people who have died in state detention. Tony Herbert is coordinating his campaign. You can support their superb efforts by making a donation on JustGiving.

Mother of Oliver McGowan has launched a petition for mandatory training for doctors to prevent future deaths. Oliver's death aged just 18 could have been prevented if doctors had a better understanding of his autism and learning disability, says Paula. You can support her petition by adding your signature and sharing with friends.

'Forward forever, backward never': A legacy for Mikey Powell is a new family blog by Tippa Naphtali, on the death of his cousin in 2003, and the long-lasting legacy that has been built for Mikey and other bereaved families.

Marcia Rigg spoke alongside Deborah Coles at a conference on Race, Mental Health and State Violence back in April. The podcast is now available online.


The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles concluded that his death was ‘accidental’. Rashan’s family spoke out about the process saying the absence of admission of any responsibility does not stall community relations by weeks or years, but sets it back generations”.

Deborah was quoted in The Guardian “It is difficult to reconcile the harrowing footage of Rashan’s death, and the outcome of this inquest. The coroner and lawyers representing the police were keen to highlight the context of gangs, drugs and violence in Hackney, in order to deflect attention away from the conduct of the police.

Rod Charles, great-uncle of Rashan Charles who spent 30 years in the Metropolitan Police, wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian following the inquest conclusion: Police restrained my great-nephew, and he died. We, his family, ask how.


Prison healthcare: Our Head of Policy, Rebecca Roberts, appeared in front of the Health and Social Care Committee as part of their inquiry into prison healthcare. Members of the Justice Committee were also in attendance. Read the live twitter feed on the session, and watch it in full on Parliament TV.

In our written submission to the committee, we provided evidence about the impact of poor prison healthcare on both physical and mental health, contributing to deaths.

INQUEST responded to another damning report on HMP Woodhill which described the number of self-inflicted deaths as ‘staggering’. Since 2011 there has been 20 self-inflicted deaths at Woodhill, which is higher than any other prison in England and Wales.

Lee Jarman, brother of Kevin Scarlett who died in Woodhill, said ‘It is painful for us to hear that Woodhill prison remains unsafe and people are continuing to die. How unsafe does a prison have to be until urgent action is taken?”

We were quoted in The Independent noting Despite the utmost independent and legal scrutiny, the inspectors found a prison that is still not safe”.

The delayed Ministry of Justice ‘Female Offender Strategy’ was released last month. INQUEST is concerned that the strategy has a lack of clarity on the funding of much-needed alternatives to custody, no implementation plan, and no substantive strategy on sentencing reform. Shelia, mother of Diane Waplington who died in HMP Peterborough in 2014, spoke to ITV news.

In May INQUEST published Still Dying on the Inside: Examining deaths in women's prisons, which puts forward a series of recommendations to close women’s prisons by redirecting resources from criminal justice to community-based services.

Since 2010, 1,370 people have died following release from prison, yet nobody is investigating or even talking about these deaths. INQUEST Head of Policy, Rebecca Roberts, asks why in this article for OpenDemocracy.


INQUEST spent an inspiring weekend at the Abolitionist Futures conference hearing from  organisers that had gathered in London from across the world.

Marcia Rigg, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett and Lee Jarman led a powerful and honest INQUEST panel, chaired by our family participation officer Ayesha. They discussed the challenges they have faced in getting truth and accountability following their relative’s death in police and prison custody.

Deborah Coles was on the opening panel of the conference, ‘Building the world we want: Prison Abolition and Gender, Racial and Economic Justice’, alongside Beth Richie and Ruthie Gilmore.

Deborah said Don't compromise. Stay true to what you believe in. Make noise. Resist being co-opted. Speak truth to power’.


14 June marked the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. INQUEST attended the morning memorial service and then joined thousands of others in the evening silent walk remembering the 72 people who lost their lives. The love and support for the community was clear for all to see. We issued a statement on the year anniversary.

The Grenfell Inquiry opening statements began ten days earlier. Some barristers representing bereaved and survivors raised whether the inquiry Terms of Reference should be amended to include whether Race, Religion or Social Class played a part.

INQUEST Trustee Rajiv Menon QC and Inquest Lawyers Group members gave important statements at the Inquiry, debunking myths and asking for justice and accountability.

The Grenfell Inquiry continues with firefighter’s evidence and is being streamed live on YouTube.


INQUEST is recruiting a Family Participation and Advocacy volunteer to work with our Family Participation Officer, assisting across a wide range of inquest cases and other related activities. The role includes research, drafting notes and correspondence, parliamentary monitoring and general administrative tasks. Find out more online.


  • INQUEST caseworker Vic McNally is providing ongoing expert advice to the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice on the information leaflets given to bereaved families after state related deaths.
  • The deaths at Gosport are part of a bleak continuum where reputational management overrides public interest. Law reform is required to compel institutions to act in a fully transparent and truthful manner, argues Deborah Coles in a letter to The Guardian.
  • Deborah Coles raised INQUEST's ongoing concerns about the treatment of bereaved families, legal aid for inquests and lack of oversight on death in mental health settings with the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody last month. INQUEST’s expertise was well recognised by all three Ministers and those in attendance