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INQUEST was founded in 1981. It is a small charitable organisation with a staff team of eight and the only organisation in England and Wales that provides a specialist, comprehensive advice service to bereaved people, lawyers, other advice and support agencies, the media, MPs and the wider public on contentious deaths and their investigation.
Our casework priorities are deaths in custody (police, prison, immigration detention and deaths of detained patients) and our focus on deaths in custody and the monitoring of such deaths means that we are at the forefront of uncovering patterns and trends. Within this area we have particular concerns about the deaths of women, people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, young people, and people with mental health problems that reflect our commitment to challenging discrimination. This is both in terms of the treatment and care received by the deceased in custody and the experience of bereaved relatives following the death.
Arising from our casework and related areas we develop policy proposals and undertake research to lobby for changes to the inquest and investigation process, reduce the number of custodial deaths and improve the treatment and care of those within the institutions where the deaths occur.
In pursuing these objectives, INQUEST seeks to maintain a set of core values that are essential to our work:
- We provide a specialist free, confidential and independent service to bereaved people and the concerns and experiences of bereaved families set the framework for all our work;
- We try to empower those who are often excluded from exercising their rights by providing information and advice. We also assist people to use the formal legal processes to scrutinise the practices of state bodies;
- We ensure that the collective experience of those with whom we work is fed back to the relevant policy makers;
- Our casework is non-judgemental in relation to the background and actions of an individual that has died;
- Our work is situated within a bereaved-centred, anti-racist and anti-discriminatory framework.
INQUEST is a registered charity no 1046650 and a registered company no 03054853. Registered office 89-93 Fonthill Road, London N4 3JH.
In this section:
‘Although it is fair to say I was given adequate opportunity to express my views the final verdict was not the one I had hoped for. We were all devastated to think that [our brother] had died in such tragic circumstances and no one had been made accountable.’
– Family of man who died while detained under the Mental Health Act