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INQUEST AND FAMILY OF JAMES HERBERT TO GIVE EVIDENCE TO HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO MENTAL HEALTH AND POLICING
1 July 2014
3.30pm Tuesday 1 July, The Thatcher Room, Portcullis House
Today INQUEST’s co-director Deborah Coles and Barbara Montgomery and Tony Herbert, the parents of James Herbert who died after being restrained by police officers in 2010, will give oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into mental health and policing.
INQUEST’s detailed written evidence to the inquiry highlights the often shocking details surrounding a number of recent deaths including those of Sean Rigg, James Herbert, Olaseni Lewis and Thomas Orchard. All died in circumstances involving the use of force and restraint by the police during a mental health crisis.
Among the concerns outlined in our written evidence are:
- the continuing high number of deaths of people with mental health problems following the dangerous use of force and the restraint by police and the increasing use of restraint equipment;
- discriminatory attitudes and responses to people in mental health crisis;
- the lack of urgent learning from previous deaths and the occurrence of further deaths raising near identical issues;
- the lack of any consistent practises or systems in place by police forces across the country in their response to mental health crises;
- the lack of accountability when deaths occur;
- despite pockets of good practise and new pilots around country, the piecemeal nature of these schemes and approaches;
- the urgent need for a national response and strategy to develop a coherent understanding and safe policing response to those with mental health issues.
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“It is critically important that the Committee can hear directly from a family and from INQUEST about the urgent need, supported by many other families, to develop a national and co-ordinated approach to the safe policing of people suffering mental illness. Too many vulnerable but otherwise physically healthy men who have come into contact with police while suffering a mental health crisis and needing help and protection have died following the dangerous use of force and restraint or serious neglect by police officers. The fact that deaths are continuing shows how urgent it is for joint action to be taken to change culture, policy and practice across police and mental health services.”
Notes to editors:
1. Further information on individual cases is available here
2. Details of tomorrow’s hearing and the Committee’s Inquiry is here
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah