Deaths in custody study
Deaths in or following police custody are a controversial area of policing, and they represent some of the most high profile cases handled by the IPCC. They impact on trust and confidence in the police, particularly in Black and minority ethnic communities. The number of deaths in or following police custody is relatively small, but each death represents a tragedy. Despite the high profile nature of this area relatively little research has been conducted into it, or were carried out some time ago.
Forces have a statutory duty to refer all deaths following police contact, including those that occur in or following police custody, to the IPCC. The IPCC reports on these deaths as part of our annual statistics into deaths during or following police contact. This study examines deaths in or following custody over an extensive period in order to identify trends, and, most importantly, the lessons that can be learnt for policy and practice to prevent future tragedies.
The research used completed investigations to gather data on all 333 deaths which occurred between 1998/99 and 2008/09. The study looks at trends in the incidents, and examines a range of themes – the use of restraint, mental health and suicide, alcohol and drugs, risk assessment and medical provision, and investigation and investigations outcomes. The final report makes a series of recommendations for police forces and the health service which aim to improve policy and practice in this area.
ODS format - Tables and charts for Deaths in custody report - August 2011
Table 2.2 of the report was amended in August 2011 following the identification of some anomalies in the force data.
Tables A.1, A.2 and A.3 in the Appendix of the report have also been revised.
The National Statistician’s independent review of IPCC statistics on deaths
In February 2012, the Chief Executive of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) requested that the National Statistician conduct an independent statistical review of the IPCC’s official statistics on deaths during or following police contact after some criticism of the figures in the media.
Following her two-month review, the National Statistician, Jil Matheson concluded that the figures are produced using a rigorous and consistent process and that the criticisms made in the media were unsupported.
The Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) on Deaths in Custody
The IAP on Deaths in Custody has produced a comprehensive statistical breakdown of all recorded deaths in state custody between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2010.
This represents an important piece of work for the Panel as this is the first time that all recorded deaths in state custody will be broken down by ethnicity, gender, age and cause of death, and presented together in a single format.
The report found that:
- in total, 5,998 deaths were recorded for the 11 years from 2000 to 2010. This is an average of 545 deaths per year. Of these deaths, 72% (N=4,291) were of males and 28% (N=1,676) were of females
- a total of 607 deaths were reported in 2000 compared to 512 in 2010 (this represents a 16% reduction between the beginning and the end of the reporting period)
- deaths of people detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) and those in prison custody account for 92% (N=5,511) of all deaths in state custody, at 61% (N=3,628) and 31% (N=1,883) respectively
- 66% (N=3,974) of deaths were recorded as natural causes. Of these, 71% (N=2,814) of deaths were of patients detained under the MHA
Click here to read the publication - October 2011
The appropriate authority can be:
- the chief officer of the police force
- the Police and Crime Commissioner responsible for the police force you complained about
- the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service)
- the Common Council for the City of London (if your complaint is about the Commissioner of the City of London police).