Leon Briggs death: family statement
12 November 2013
Following the death of Leon Briggs in police custody in Luton on 4 November 2013, his family said:
“We the family of Leon Briggs are deeply shocked by his sudden death. Leon was a loving father, son and brother. He was a kind, loyal, intelligent, caring person who put his family and others first.
“On 4th November 2013 we are told that Leon was taken into the custody of Luton police under S136 of the Mental Health Act. Leon was unwell and needed specialist help, instead the police forcefully restrained him and he died in police custody. We have a lot of questions about why he was put through this terrifying ordeal and why he died. We feel he has been let down by the authorities at a time when he should have been provided with specialist care and support.
“It is important to us to see the seriousness with which the IPCC are approaching the investigation into Leon’s death.
“You will understand that the loss of Leon has come as a tremendous shock to us all and we would ask you to respect our privacy at what is a very difficult time for his family. Under the present circumstances we shall not be making any further comments, issue any further statements or undertake any media interviews at this time.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“INQUEST is dismayed by yet another death of a vulnerable person with mental health problems who is restrained and taken, not to hospital, but to a police station. We also know from our casework that young black men and those with mental health problems are disproportionately represented in deaths following the use of force.
“This follows a pattern of cases where a policing response to someone in crisis has resulted in death and highlights our call for urgent action to address this national scandal. Today we have raised our concerns at the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody.”
Notes to Editors:
INQUEST is working with Leon Briggs's family and alongside their lawyer, INQUEST Lawyers Group member Jocelyn Cockburn of Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors, and will be facilitating contact with other families for mutual support.
There has been a second death in police custody following detention under the Mental Health Act, eight days after Leon's death.
‘I’ve been a long-time supporter of the crucial work that INQUEST does. Until there is legislation to change the way inquests are conducted and the provision of legal and psychological support to the bereaved of those who died in custody, INQUEST will continue to be a vital source of support for families.’
– Linton Kwesi Johnson