Response to IOPC Annual Death Statistics Report
The Independent Office of Police Complaints (IOPC) has today, 28 September, published its annual data on deaths during or following police contact.
The data provides valuable insight and opportunity for learning about the circumstances behind deaths in or following police custody.
The number of deaths has decreased notably over the last year 2021/22 from 19 to 11. The number of recorded apparent suicides following custody was 56, compared to 55 fatalities recorded last year. This remains higher than the average number recorded over the years before 2012/13, when there was a notable increase.
APCC Mental Health & Custody leads Surrey PCC Lisa Townsend and Merseyside PCC Emily Spurrell, said:
“Whilst it is positive that the number of deaths in or following police custody have notably decreased, it is important that we do not lose sight of what these numbers represent, real people, who have lost their lives and no doubt leave behind devastated family members.
“What is clear from looking at the data is that those entering police custody can be highly vulnerable, many with acute mental health needs. If we are to protect and safeguard these individuals these vulnerabilities must be identified at the earliest opportunity.
“Many positive steps have been taken to ensure this is the case, with police officers receiving in-depth guidance and training to help them identify those most vulnerable.
“We are also really proud of our PCC-led Independent Custody Visiting schemes, which are made up of community volunteers who visit police cells unannounced to check on the welfare of detainees, highlighting risks and concerns in real time and providing public assurance. We must continue to uphold this level of care if we are to ensure that vulnerable people do not slip through the net.
“The data obtained in this report is vital in ensuring high levels of public transparency. As Police and Crime Commissioners, we will be reviewing the data in detail and will ensure practical steps are put in place to learn from each of these deaths so that police, alongside partners, can safeguard vulnerable people and prevent deaths in the future, as well as maintain the public’s confidence in policing.”