Police Custody Deaths Data ‘Must Be Improved’

Investigation Sheds Light On Issue

01.02.2012

An expert in Police law at Irwin Mitchell has backed calls for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to improve the information it compiles on deaths in custody, following a recent BBC investigation.

BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism have claimed that official figures are not a proper reflection of the number of people who die in custody following restraint, as anyone who dies without being formally arrested is not included.

It was revealed that of 86 cases where people died following the use of restraint in custody, just 16 were directly linked to restraint by the IPCC.

Campaigners and Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, have raised concerns over the findings.

Ifti Manzoor, a legal expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office who specialises in Police law and has represented victims who have suffered serious injury as a result of excessive force.

Commenting on this issue, he said: “Data collected in relation to such issues can play a huge role in identifying areas of concern and ensuring, where necessary, that training and guidance is offered to guarantee the safe use of restraint by officers.

“This means that the collection of information which is both accurate and fully reflects the issue is incredibly important. Ultimately, it is the only way that high standards can be enforced and maintained.

“While the police for the most part do an excellent job under often difficult conditions, from our work we do see instances where people have been affected by failings. Lessons can and should be learnt.”

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