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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Details of review into deaths in police custody

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To examine and identify the reasons and obstacles as to why the current investigation system has fallen short of many families’ needs and expectations, with particular reference to the importance of accountability of those involved and sustained learning following such incidents.

Independent review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced the terms of reference of the independent review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody on 21 October 2015.

The full terms of reference are set out below.

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The terms of reference

There are three terms of reference:

  • to examine the procedures and processes surrounding deaths and serious incidents in police custody, including the lead up to such incidents, the immediate aftermath, through to the conclusion of official investigations. It should consider the extent to which ethnicity is a factor in such incidents. The review should include a particular focus on family involvement and their support experience at all stages.
  • to examine and identify the reasons and obstacles as to why the current investigation system has fallen short of many families’ needs and expectations, with particular reference to the importance of accountability of those involved and sustained learning following such incidents.
  • to identify areas for improvement and develop recommendations seeking to ensure appropriate, humane institutional treatment when such incidents, particularly deaths in or following detention in police custody, occur. Recommendations should consider the safety and welfare of all those in the police custody environment, including detainees and police officers and staff. The aim should be to enhance the safety of the police custody setting for all.

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The role of Inquest

The Home Secretary also confirmed that there will be a formal role for INQUEST, a charity that offers advice to families bereaved by death in police custody. Deborah Coles, Director at INQUEST, has been appointed as a special adviser to the chair and the charity will:

  • facilitate family listening days so that the Chair can hear evidence first-hand from those who have lost loved ones in police custody to ensure their views are taken into account.
  • play a leading role on an advisory board which will offer expert advice to the Chair during the course of the review.

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The Chair of the review

Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC will chair the review. Dame Eilish was born in Govan, Glasgow Eilish angioliniin a working class family. After studying law, she because a Procurator Fiscal (public prosecutor) and worked her way up to be Solicitor General for Scotland (in 2001) and then became Lord Advocate (unusually serving both Labour and SNP administrations) from 2006-2011.

She recently (2 June 2015) published an independent review of how the Metropolitan Police and CPS investigate and prosecute rape cases in London.

The Home Office announcement does not specify a timetable for the review.

You can follow Inquest on Twitter @INQUEST_ORG

 

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