The independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini has been published by the Home Office. It is the first and only review of policing practises and related processes following police related deaths. The report offers the government a blueprint for change to urgently implement in the face of numerous recent concerning deaths.

The report took 10 months to publish and during that short time there have been a number of concerning deaths following police contact. The deaths of Rashan Charles and Edson Da Costa in particular have reignited widespread public concern. Since January there are at least eight deaths involving restraint or taser and other use of force, and five deaths of people who ‘became unwell’ or were found unresponsive while in custody.

The review was commissioned by Theresa May, then Home Secretary, after meeting the families of Olaseni Lewis and Sean Rigg, both of whom died following restraint by police officers whilst suffering mental health issues.

Deaths within custody have been on an unsettling increase, for numerous reasons, over the past 18 months.

The report published makes over 100 evidence based recommendations, which are meant to provide ideas for steps agencies can take to move forward. The recommendations in the report include –

  • Access to justice for families, including through non-means tested legal representation for bereaved families from the earliest point following the death.

  • Strengthening systems and structures of accountability and holding the police to account

  • National Oversight and learning from deaths, such as through an ‘Office for Article 2 Compliance’ which would monitor and report on recommendations arising from deaths.

  • Improved investigation, including through the phasing out of Ex-police officers as lead investigators within the IPCC.
  • An end to delay, in which Article 2 related cases should be dealt with in the same time scales as a civilian homicide case.

Any recommendations which will limit deaths whilst in custody and that have a focus on family support and inclusion are welcomed and it is with hope that the agencies who these recommendations relate to make attempts at implementing them.

Here at Farleys, our experienced Inquest team understand the distress and anguish that a death of a family member can cause. We can provide advice, assistance, and representation to ensure that you are fully supported throughout such a difficult time. It is important that your concerns surrounding the death of your family member are appropriately addressed.

If you require assistance with the inquest process but are concerned about how much it will cost to obtain such representation, you may be eligible for public funding. For legal advice regarding the death of a loved one please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Inquest department on 0845 287 0939 or alternatively you can email us.

The review in full can be found here