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Deaths In Custody
INQUEST uses the term deaths in custody as a shorthand to refer to all deaths in state detention including in prisons, secure training centres, in police custody, immigration detention centres and psychiatric detention and those deaths involving contact with state agents.
INQUEST’s casework and monitoring service has recorded over 5,600 deaths in prison and in police custody in England and Wales between 1990 and 2016. Many of these deaths have raised serious issues of negligence, systemic failures to care for the vulnerable, institutional violence, racism, inhumane treatment and abuse of human rights.
There are no mechanisms for monitoring, auditing or publishing investigations and inquest findings and no statutory requirement to act on the findings of these investigations. There is also a pattern of institutionalised reluctance to approach deaths in custody as potential homicides even where there have been systemic failings and gross negligence has occurred. There has not been a successful homicide prosecution for a death in custody for over 30 years.
INQUEST campaigns to change policies and practice relating to deaths in custody and for increased accountability following contentious deaths.
In this section:
‘At the time of the tragedy, I had no idea of what to do or who to turn to. By luck, I found yourselves and contacted you, the rest as we say is history. On behalf of [my brother's] family, friends and myself I would just like to thank you so much for your professional support and advice during that difficult period and without that help, I do not think we would be where we are today.’
– Brother of a man who died in police custody