IPCC publishes findings of independent external review of investigation in Sean Rigg’s death
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has accepted the findings of an independent review of its investigation into the death of Sean Rigg and will take action on all its recommendations.
The Chair of the IPCC, Dame Anne Owers, commissioned the review in November 2012 following the inquest. Mr Rigg died in police custody on 21 August 2008 after being arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service earlier that day.
The independent review, conducted by Dr Silvia Casale with the support of James Lewis QC and Martin Corfe, was carried out between November 2012 and April 2013.
One of the review’s recommendations, which the IPCC accepts, is that there should be a re-examination of whether there is potential misconduct in respect of the actions of the police officers involved in Sean Rigg’s arrest and detention. The IPCC is reviewing the evidence heard at inquest, in the light of the review’s findings, in order to determine whether further action can and should be taken.
In reviewing the IPCC’s investigation into Mr Rigg’s death, Dr Casale’s team also made a number of recommendations about procedures in general in cases involving a death. Some are matters for the IPCC alone; others will require action or agreement by others. Matters for the IPCC include:
• Independently investigating all deaths in custody at the outset;
• Interviewing officers and staff involved as early as possible with transcripts produced of interviews in which officers’ accounts are probed;
• Ensuring IPCC Commissioners take a proactive role during investigations;
• Taking a multi-disciplinary approach both internally and externally;
• Exploring the use of non-police experts in areas such as mental health, restraint and CCTV;
• Taking a more analytical approach in investigation reports;
• Taking a broader approach in deaths investigations rather than focusing just on criminality or misconduct;
• Providing better support to bereaved families.
Dame Anne Owers said:
"The Rigg family has demonstrated determination and dignity over a long period of time. Above all they have been committed to getting answers about the circumstances of Sean’s tragic death. I am conscious that the shortcomings identified in this review, and the length of time it has taken to get to this stage, have added to the distress and grief of the Rigg family and I have apologised to them for this. I hope it will be of some comfort that they have helped shape our work in future and our approach to bereaved families like theirs.
"I would like to thank Dr Casale and her team for the valuable work they have done. Their review has produced telling and important findings which the IPCC has accepted. We are already taking a critical look at the way we investigate deaths in general, and this specific review, and the lessons to be learnt from it, will play an important part in the way that we develop and change our approach.
"I will be working with Commissioners and staff to ensure that those lessons are put into practice. I am encouraged by the fact that many of the concerns expressed by Dr Casale, her team and the Rigg family have also been voiced in discussions among our own staff and Commissioners, as well as by other external stakeholders.
"Some things have already changed since 2008. As Dr Casale recognises, we now have critical incident management processes in place and we have clarified and strengthened the role that Commissioners play in overseeing investigations.
"We are using both existing and new powers to ensure officers are interviewed expeditiously, and are examining our use of experts, including on mental health and restraint. But there is more to be done and we will use this review to build on progress so far. We will also be looking at how we can feed the recent findings of Lord Adebowale’s independent Commission on mental health into our work.
"The Commission will formally consider the review at its next meeting, in June, after which a detailed action plan, responding to each of the recommendations, will be published.”
Dr Silvia Casale said:
"We found that the IPCC investigation and report concerning the tragic death in custody of Sean Rigg in 2008 should have been more robust, in particular as regards its pursuit of lines of inquiry and critical analysis of the evidence. Our recommendations focus on what can be learnt from that case for future investigations into deaths in custody.
"We welcome in particular the significant changes underway and the developments in the pipeline, in terms of the IPCC's management of cases and methods of investigating and reporting. These improvements will help the IPCC to fulfil its important and complex mandate: to ensure that the UK meets its obligations to protect the right to life and to prevent deaths in custody.”
Marcia Rigg, oldest sister of Sean Rigg, speaking on behalf of the Rigg family said:
"My family sincerely welcomes this unprecedented thorough Review of the IPCC’s original investigation into the death of our beloved Sean, and the true and honest findings and recommendations of the Review.
"We also welcome the IPCC's acceptance of the failures in its investigation, its wholehearted apologies to us for those failures and its promise to take action on the recommendations, including to re-examine any potential police misconduct.
"It is the family's strong opinion that possible criminal offences should also be considered afresh and we will be discussing that soon with the Commissioner now overseeing this case, Mary Cunneen.
"It has been a pleasant surprise for us to see that the IPCC accepts the need to put its house in order for the betterment of all future investigations into deaths in police custody. The Rigg family respectfully insist that all such investigations must be robust, fearless, transparent and properly effective. If the Review's recommendations are fully implemented, this can only improve public confidence in the IPCC, which society does need to fulfil its purpose. But the police and the police federation need to sit up and take notice of this Report – they need to put their houses in order rather than obstructing the IPCC in its statutory role.
"Almost five years after Sean's unnecessary death, my family's pursuit of justice and our dignified determination to arrive at a truly clear picture of what happened to Sean on 21 August 2008, has hopefully contributed to real and positive change into the way the IPCC and all key agencies should fulfil their obligations, by law, into a death in custody so that no other family should ever have to endure the pain, grief and anger we and other families have endured.
"We look forward to seeing the IPCC’s action plan in the coming months and working with Mary Cunneen and Catherine Hall on their review of Sean’s death in the coming weeks and months.
"Finally, my family wish to personally and warmly thank Dr Silvia Casale, James Lewis QC, and Martin Corfe (the Independent Review team) and Dame Anne Owers for listening to our genuine concerns and acting upon the majority of them.”
Notes to editors:
For media queries, please contact the IPCC press office on 0207 246 8633
The terms of reference for the review were to:
• Take account of the concerns of the Rigg family about the effectiveness and approach of the investigation;
• Determine whether to recommend that further investigation is required into the conduct of any police officer or member of police staff with a view either to misconduct or criminal proceedings;
• Identify any learning including:
i. Any organisational or individual learning for the IPCC in its handling of investigations that engage Article 2 of the ECHR and investigations that involve mental health issues;
ii. Any broader issues or questions either for the IPCC or the overall system for investigating deaths following police contact, to inform the review into deaths following police contact already launched by the IPCC;
iii. Any issues raised by the relationships between the IPCC and the coronial process.
• Take account of the parallel review of health and social care support being carried out by Lambeth Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board
The IPCC is carrying out a review of its investigations into deaths. Although some of the issues that inspired the review are the result of limitations to the IPCC’s powers or resources, we are examining if there are ways in which we need to work differently. The purpose of the review is to engage with all of those who have experience of our work investigating deaths, including our critics, to increase public confidence in this important area of our work. The responses collected during a consultation are now being examined before publication of a report later in the year.