10 July 2023

On Tuesday 27 June, bereaved families, parliamentarians and campaigners joined together to mark the launch of INQUEST’s latest campaign: ‘No More Deaths: the case for a National Oversight Mechanism’.

INQUEST is calling for a National Oversight Mechanism: a new independent public body responsible for collating, analysing and following-up on recommendations arising from inquests, inquiries, official reviews and investigations into state-related deaths.

The launch event in the House of Commons was chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy, alongside campaigning families and INQUEST.

INQUEST’s Director, Deborah Coles, outlined the background to the new campaign, which has arisen out of decades of working alongside bereaved families and lawyers fighting for truth, justice and accountability.  

What our monitoring of investigations, inquests, public inquiries and official reviews has time and again revealed is the reoccurrence of deaths in state care or custody in depressingly similar circumstances.

What’s more, investigatory processes repeatedly issue the same or similar recommendations made with the purpose of preventing future deaths. The reality of so many preventable deaths illustrates a systemic failure to enact change.

Two bereaved families who have worked closely with INQUEST spoke on the panel about their experiences.

Richard Caseby, the father of Matthew Caseby who died at the age of 23 after a catalogue of failures at a Priory hospital, spoke of how he feels at a “cliff edge” following the failures highlighted in his son’s care.

Writing in The Times ahead of the launch, Richard said that amidst all the grief after losing a child, “one other thought persists: a resolve that no other parent should suffer like you needlessly.” The National Oversight Mechanism, he told the attendees, is a key step to guarantee that the necessary changes to prevent new tragedies are made promptly.

Marienna Pope-Weidemann is an author, journalist and activist. In 2017 her 19 year old cousin Gaia died. Gaia was a rape survivor with complex needs who had been repeatedly failed by the police, mental health and social care services, and went missing from her home in Dorset.

In her powerful call to action, Marienna said,

It’s too late to save our loved one and our lives will never be the same so what drives families is the promise that lessons will be learned; that changes will be made; that it will help prevent more deaths in future. Without a national oversight mechanism, that promise is a lie.

Marienna also wrote in The i about the campaign and her family’s experiences.

Leslie Thomas KC, a human rights barrister who has appeared in many high-profile cases such as Hillsborough and Grenfell, explained why better learning from investigations into state-related deaths is a critical part of the UK’s human rights framework.

Andy Slaughter MP and Shadow Solicitor General also discussed the importance recommendations can have when they lead to positive change and action.

The event also heard from several bereaved family members on the failures and gaps in accountability following the death of their family member. Many called on the Government to listen to their experiences and act on their calls for change.

INQUEST’s campaign has already been supported by over 45 organisations, including Liberty, JUSTICE, Runnymede and Grenfell United.

Now we need more support from people like you, as the campaign continues:

Learn more about the campaign here.

Find media coverage of the campaign on thr BBC Today Programme, in The Times, Guardian, The Justice Gap, A Lawyer Writes, UnHerd, and The Law and Policy Blog