APCC responds to Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody


In response to the publication today of the report into deaths and serious incidents in police custody, Matthew Scott, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent and the national lead for mental health and custody said:

“Since 1990, over 1,000 families have been impacted by a death in police custody. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), in holding their Chief Constables to account, can play a key role in ensuring that in such tragic circumstances better processes are followed, and deaths prevented from occurring.

“The Dame Elish Angiolini Review provides another look at a longstanding and critical challenge to faith in the criminal justice.  A number of the recommendations have already been implemented, and others will follow in due course.

“The Review highlights what PCCs can and are doing to address some of the issues raised. For example, Independent Custody Visitor schemes, which are run by PCCs, ensure higher standards of welfare for detainees in custody. PCCs are the ones investing in body-worn video cameras – as recommended in the Review. By the end of the year, there will be 60,000 on the frontline of policing. PCCs are also commissioning more mental health provision in order to manage the demand on policing – which is over one third of police time nationally.

“This Review confirms the belief of PCCs that the Government’s partial ban on the use of police custody for adults in mental health crisis needs to be outright. However healthcare commissioners still need to provide more psychiatric beds and places of safety. The NHS and Local Authorities also need to work together on providing suitable facilities for those detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act – but cannot be assessed because they’re intoxicated.

“Lots of work remains to be done – but it’s important that all those involved: PCCs, policing, the reformed Independent Police Complaints Commission, the NHS and others – come together and ensure the system does enough to prevent further tragedies from occurring.”

 Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and the national lead for transparency and integrity, said:

“I welcome Angiolini Review, which has been needed for quite some time. The report highlights some of the systemic problems which need addressing urgently, both within policing as well as more widely.

“A number of recommendations stand out, of which one is about former police officers no longer investigating these deaths.  I wholeheartedly agree and see this as a vital step in ensuring victim’s families have both the perception and reality of true independence.  Another is a National Coroner Service, which on the face of it will allow PCCs and others to understand and challenge any inconsistencies or shortcomings regarding Coroner’s work, but I would also like to see a clear focus on the quality of local Coroner’s services.

“I also agree with Matthew that health partners need to continue to provide ready access to places of safety, which will mean fewer people in mental health crisis have to be detained in police cells.  Enough is enough and the public sector needs to work together to ensure we support these people in their time of greatest need.”

Dame Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and Deputy Lead for transparency and integrity said:

“It is important that the public has confidence in the way that deaths in custody are handled.  The recommendations included in this report, notably the need to ensure independence of investigators and the need for an experienced non-police officer to attend the scene as a matter of urgency, will go some way to achieve this. It is also right that conferral between police officers is limited to pressing operational reasons as even if done with utmost integrity, there is a risk that versions could be inadvertently dovetailed, undermining public trust in the system.”


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