NEWS RELEASE: Prevention Must Be Priority to Reduce Deaths in Custody

London, 07 January 2019: Forensic and legal medicine experts say the latest Home Office progress report on deaths in police custody should have placed greater emphasis on prevention of deaths in police custody, according to a Statement published today by the Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine (FFLM or the Faculty).

With deaths in police custody or following contact with police at their highest levels in a decade, the Faculty, along with representatives of forensic nurses and paramedics, argue that the report by the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody, chaired by Home Office Minister Nick Hurd MP, should specify additional means of prevention to those already underway along with ‘supporting families’ and ‘strengthening accountability’.

The response, which welcomes some elements of the progress report, says, ‘prevention must be considered the priority so that deaths and serious harm in police custody are reduced. The measures outlined in the Progress Update are important to families whose loved ones have died, but does not provide any specific new, police custody specific means of addressing deaths and serious harm in police custody.’

FFLM Chair, Professor Carol Seymour said, “Every one of these deaths is a tragedy, and many are preventable. The Home Office should prioritise efforts to stop them happening in the first place. With the increasing levels of deaths we are seeing at the moment, no one can afford to be complacent, so it is disappointing that the Ministerial Board appears to focus more on events after tragedies occur.”

Professor Seymour added: “Medical services within police stations must be brought into the NHS. This is because elected Police & Crime Commissioners may have political priorities that override the healthcare of vulnerable detainees, resulting in a postcode lottery as to the availability and quality of healthcare available to those detained by the police.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:
– HM Government’s, Deaths in Police Custody: Progress Update – December 2018 sets out the progress made in delivering the work programme of the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody. It is co-chaired by the Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, Rory Stewart OBE MP and Jackie Doyle-Price MP
– The board was set up in in response to the Rt. Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC’s Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody, first published in December 2017.
You can read the full FFLM Statement HERE
For more information contact Sandy McLean +44(0)7 786 601 771, sandy@sandymcleanpr.com.