24 August 2011

The deaths of Philip Hulmes after he was hit with electric probes from a police Taser in his home in Over Hulton, near Bolton on 23 August; of Jacob Michael following police restraint and use of pepper spray on 22 August; and of Dale Burns following police restraint and use of a Taser on 16 August highlight a disturbing trend in deaths following contact with the police. Already in 2011 there have been five deaths in circumstances that involved the police use of force excluding firearms. In 2010 there were four deaths that clearly followed the use of restraint by police.

Helen Shaw, INQUEST Co-Director, said:

The shocking reports about three tragic deaths in eight days following the use of force by police highlights INQUEST’s growing concern about deaths following contact with the police. For too long there has been a pattern of cases where inquest juries have found overwhelming evidence of unlawful and excessive use of force or gross neglect yet the police do not seem to have learnt the lessons from these previous deaths. Whilst we await the outcome of the inquests and investigations into these recent deaths it is imperative that the police are reminded that they cannot act with impunity.

Notes to editors:

INQUEST casework and monitoring records the following deaths involving police custody/contact and/or use of force:

  •  January-August 2010:  11 custody/contact deaths and no fatal shootings – one death involved the use of a Taser. None were BAME deaths
  • January-August 2011: 16 custody/contact deaths and 2 fatal shootings – two deaths involved Tasers, two CS/PAVA spray, and 8 are BAME deaths.

(Note: The total number of police custody/contact deaths INQUEST monitored in 2010 was 16, including one BAME death and one fatal shooting.)