IOPC Deaths Following Police Contact report
APCC Mental Health & Custody Lead Matthew Scott, PCC for Kent, and Deputy Lead Martyn Underhill, PCC for Dorset, respond to IOPC Deaths Following Police Contact report 19/20:
“As elected Police and Crime Commissioners and National Leads for Mental Health and Custody, we welcome the transparency the IOPC’s report provides on deaths following police contact.
“Deaths in police custody are taken seriously and subject to independent review by the IOPC in England and Wales. Today’s statistics highlight a number of trends, with mental health and alcohol and substance misuse significant factors in the unfortunate deaths in and following police custody.
“These trends highlight the levels of vulnerability police officers and custody staff are managing on a day to day basis. Mental health, in particular, remains an area of focus for PCCs and policing and we have worked together to inform national recommendations to update legislation to reduce the number of people suffering with ill mental health entering police custody and instead ensure they are directed to appropriate sources of support and professional care.
“Police custody is an extremely challenging environment, with a high volume of detainees demonstrating a range of vulnerabilities, dependencies and complex needs to which police officers and staff make every effort through training, vigilance and commitment to safeguard vulnerable people. PCCs remain committed to working alongside policing leads to reduce the number of deaths in custody and ensure the safety of detainees, custody staff and other professionals who operate in this space. One of the ways we do this is through our work with independent custody visitors. These volunteers provide local communities with eyes and ears inside police custody and, through their reports, play an important role in making custody a safer environment.
“We also note the trend around the number of deaths involving alcohol and drugs and suicides following police contact. As a result, we will be working with PCCs, policing colleagues and partners to better understand these risks and effective safeguards to prevent further tragedies.
“Furthermore, through our oversight powers, we will continue to deliver scrutiny of police custody and support police forces to work effectively with partners and gain their expertise and support with the intention of making custody a safe environment.”
Full IOPC Deaths Following Police Contact report 19/20 is available to download from the IOPC website.