9 May 2022

Sheku Bayoh Inquiry

Capital House, Festival Square,
Edinburgh, EH3 9SU (Or via YouTube)

Inquiry opens 10 May 2022, 10am
Family Press Conference: 9 May, 9am (See notes)

Sheku Bayoh was 31 years old when he died after being restrained by police officers on 3 May 2015 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. A public inquiry into his death will open on Tuesday 10 May,

Sheku, a black man born in Sierra Leone, was a trainee gas engineer and father of two. His death has been of significant controversy, raising public concern over racism and policing in Scotland.

INQUEST primarily works in England and Wales but has been supporting Sheku’s family and their legal team since his death.

The purpose of the inquiry is to examine:

  • the immediate circumstances leading to the death
  • how the police dealt with the aftermath
  • the subsequent investigation into the death
  • whether race was a factor

The inquiry can also make recommendations to prevent deaths in similar circumstances. The full terms of reference are available here.

A vigil will be held outside of the hearing ahead of the opening, from 9am. There will also be a family press conference for media (see notes for details).

Speaking on behalf of the family ahead of the inquiry opening, their solicitor Aamer Anwar said: “The Public Inquiry will finally commence seven years and seven days after Sheku Bayoh died in police custody, and two years since the former Lord Advocate advised the Bayoh family that not one police officer would face charges for the death of Sheku Bayoh. Sheku’s family believe they were failed by those who have a duty to protect the public and uphold the law.

There were repeated attempts to criminalise, stereotype and smear Sheku in his death. He did not deserve to die. When the police arrived, he was walking empty handed, no knife was found upon him, nor was one ever brandished.

The first officers on the scene subjected Sheku to CS spray, Pava spray and the use of batons. He was face down on the ground in less than 50 seconds, he was restrained by up to seven officers. He was handcuffed and had ankle and legs restraints applied to him. Within minutes he had stopped breathing and then died. His body was covered with over 24 separate lacerations, cuts, bruises, and a broken rib.

In the immediate aftermath, the nine officers involved in the restraint refused to give statements to the independent investigators of Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) and were allowed to congregate in a canteen together for some eight hours, it 32 days later before statements were provided to the PIRC.

The Bayoh family have described Sheku as Scotland’s George Floyd, the only difference is that despite seven years of struggle the Bayoh’s have never seen justice or heard the truth. This inquiry owes its existence to the struggle fought by Sheku’s loved ones. They believe no police officer or institution should be allowed to evade scrutiny. Sheku’s loved ones have waited a very long time to hear the truth and that is the very least they are entitled to.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: “Those entrusted with the role of policing must be subject to accountability before the law. The disproportionate use of force against Black people by police, in the UK and internationally, is well documented.

Sheku’s family have faced lies, denial and obfuscation since his death. Like too many bereaved people their struggle for truth, justice and accountability has been unnecessarily long and hard.

This inquiry must be a watershed moment for Scotland in examining issues around institutional racism, police restraint practices and the flawed systems for responding to deaths. This is both in the family and public interest and in the hope that future deaths are prevented.”


For further information please contact Lucy McKay on [email protected] and [email protected]

On Tuesday 10th May, the family and their legal team will hold a short press conference at 9am in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, in the One Space Conference Room. This is next to the Inquiry Building, at Festival Square, Edinburgh.

Following this they will go out to speak to those attending the vigil and then enter the Inquiry for 9.30am. Should you be attending please confirm by email to [email protected] 

A Justice for Sheku Bayoh campaign vigil will be held on Tuesday 10 May from 9am outside the inquiry building (Capital House, Festival Square, Edinburgh, EH3 9SU)


The inquiry will take place at Capital House, Festival Square, Edinburgh, EH3 9SU. You must book to attend in person. See the official Sheku Bayoh Inquiry website for more information on booking and the background to the inquiry.

The hearings will be broadcast. They will be available to watch on the Inquiry YouTube channel. Where possible transcripts of each day's hearings will also be made available on this website.

Deaths in police custody in Scotland

Every death in police custody in Scotland is subject to a fatal accident inquiry (FAI), which is the equivalent of an inquest. This is the first Scottish public inquiry of this kind into a death in police custody in Scotland.

A recent Freedom of Information request (published September 2021) revealed that in Scotland there have been 122 deaths in custody, or following contact with officers, in the past seven years — with 35 of those happening since the beginning of 2020.

The Police Scotland data showed the figure had more than tripled from seven in 2014 to 24 in 2020, the most recent full year available. Between January and August 2021, a further 11 deaths were recorded. See media reports.

PIRC is the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, who investigate deaths in police custody and contact in Scotland.