Experts in

Death in Custody Claims


Funding options for deaths in custody

No win, no fee

Be represented by a highly-experienced civil liberties lawyer at no upfront cost to you. Under our No Win, No Fee agreement you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of the compensation awarded if your case is successful.

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Questions for families following a death in custody

Questions for families following a death in custody

Whenever there is a death in custody, those left behind are usually left with many unanswered questions, and will want to obtain as much information as possible about the circumstances to help them find some closure.

Sometimes, this can prove to be extremely difficult – especially if the death of a loved one may have been caused by negligence, violence, racism, inhumane treatment, systematic failures or abuse of their human rights.

Despite the number of deaths in police custody, at prisons or other detention centres in England and Wales, there is still no process for monitoring, auditing or publishing the subsequent investigations and inquest findings which follow. There is also no statutory legal requirement to act on the findings of these investigations.

By working with our civil liberties team, the families we represent can feel reassured the death is properly investigated.


Ensuring custody deaths are fully investigated

Ensuring custody deaths are fully investigated

At Hudgell Solicitors, our team boasts extensive knowledge and experience of handling cases relating to deaths in custody.

Having worked on a high number of cases involving actions against the police and other public authorities, our death in custody lawyers are some of the most experienced in the country and boast a strong track record of achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Our team work with people throughout England and Wales and will be happy to arrange a free initial consultation at a time which is convenient to you.


Legal support at inquests

Legal support at inquests

Our death in custody experts always aim to discover the full circumstances leading up to the death to ensure that the person or people responsible can be held to account.

We offer free legal advice and promise to make the claims process as simple and stress-free as possible.

Families can rely on our experts to hold those who are responsible to account, and our work often includes:

  • Supporting families at inquests. Our inquest solicitors can challenge a Coroner’s decision in the Administrative Court. This may be necessary if you feel the death was not investigated properly.
  • Ensuring your questions are answered and lessons learnt by the relevant authorities.
  • Fighting on behalf of the families who are left behind in a bid to secure admissions of errors and the maximum possible compensation settlement.

Client stories

Client stories

Ensuring you get the compensation you deserve

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Damages for family of prisoner found hanged in cell as ‘inadequate care plan’ contributed to staff ‘complacency’ over threats to kill himself

The daughter of an Oxfordshire prisoner found hanged in his cell says lessons must be learned after successfully pursuing a civil case against the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Sarah-Jane Gray took legal action after learning how staff at HMP Bullingdon, in Bicester, became ‘complacent’ with regards to her father David’s repeated threats to take his […]

How to make a death in custody claim

How to make a claim

Make a claim in five easy steps

Step 1

Free Initial Advice

Call us, request a callback or complete our online claim form and we will assess whether we think you have a claim.

Start my claim

Step 2


We will help you to decide how best to fund your claim. Usually we will be able to offer you a No win, No fee agreement.

Step 3

Letter of Claim

We will send a letter to your opponent with details of your claim, setting out why we think they are at fault.

Step 4

Obtain Supporting Evidence & Expert Reports

We will request copies of any supporting documents for your claim and, if appropriate, instruct expert witnesses to provide an opinion in support of your case.

Step 5

Negotiate Settlement

We will review your opponent’s response to our letter of claim and update you on the merits of your claim and any valuation before making any settlement offers.

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Start your claim today

Feel free to give us a call or begin your claim online

Alternatively, call us now on 01482787771

Our client reviews

Our client reviews

We’re always committed to getting the optimum outcome for you.

Quick and efficient, great service
5 Stars
My experience with Hudgell was absolutely incredible from start to finish, particularly with Mobeena, the solicitor behind my case. She was thorough and efficient, keeping me informed at all time. I couldn’t recommend her and the company more, it was dealt with in such a professional manner with great speed too. Thanks Mobeena and thank you to the company!
5 Stars
Anna Buchanan
We had our holiday sickness claim dealt with by Anne and her team, they made everything so easy for us and kept us in the loop with all developments. Would i recommend this solicitors, hell yeah they was an absolute pleasure to work with.
5 Stars
David Arnell
Completed an online enquiry form. They called back and stated that they were too busy to take the case on! So why allow online enquiries? Clearly an unreliable and useless firm
1 Stars
Michelle Clarke
Chris Trousdale was the one of the youngest miscarriages of justice victims as a result of the Post Office Horizon scandal.
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What is the definition of a death in custody?

A death in custody refers to a person who has died whilst in the custody of the state – such as the police, prison service or any other authority.

The following circumstances are all examples of situations where the ‘death in custody’ definition applies:

  • When detained for the purposes of a search.
  • Under arrest at a police station.
  • Held as a prisoner in a police station or prison.
  • Under arrest by a police officer, regardless of where you are.
  • In any other lawful detention centre, such as an immigration or detention centre.
  • As a result of being shot by a police officer, regardless of where it happened.
  • Whilst a child or young person is being held in custody for their own protection.

Because this is a complex subject area, there are also a couple of exceptions to the rule.

In these cases, a ‘death in custody’ still applies if:

  • The death happened after any ‘contact with the police’ where the death may be linked to the contact which took place.
  • A suicide or a death following a fight between prisoners – if there is an indication that a prison officer or other person with state authority has been negligent and failed to prevent the death.

In all of these incidents, except fatal police shootings, the identity or employment of the person who caused the death does not matter. So, if a person dies because a police doctor is negligent when issuing medical treatment whilst in custody, that is still classed as a ‘death in custody’.

If a death happens in a road traffic incident whilst under arrest it is not a death in custody – even if they were heading to a police station in a police car.

A death in custody cannot be declared when the victim is compulsorily detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 – unless they are still in police custody and waiting to be transferred to a medical facility.

Why can death in custody compensation claims be made?

Under article 2 of the Human Rights Act, everyone should be afforded the ‘right to life’ at all times – along with the right to be treated fairly, equally and with dignity.

This means every UK police force and detention authority is required to take reasonable steps to protect an individual if they know, or ought to know, that there is a real and immediate risk to their life.

Unfortunately, these safeguards are not always followed and police forces can often face criticism and investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for failing in their duty.

What is the time limit for making a claim?

Timescales to make claims vary dependent upon the type of claim. As a general rule, a damages claim arising from a death in custody will be pursued under the Human Rights Act, which has a 12 months limitation period.

However, there are circumstances in civil liberties cases where time limits can be extended, so we’d advise calling a member of our team as soon as possible.

If you’d like to discuss how we would pursue a case on your behalf, please get in touch and talk to us in complete confidence.

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Alternatively, call us now on 01482787771

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Victoria Richardson

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Hudgell Solicitors comment on the Civil Justice Quarterly Statistics

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) have now published the quarterly civil justice statistics covering July to September 2020. These latest stats show us that Civil Justice actions continue to remain below pre-Covid levels and in particular, County Court claims were down 47% on the same period in 2019 however this was driven by a 50% […]

3 min read time

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Feel free to give us a call or begin your claim online

Alternatively, call us now on 01482787771

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Death in Custody

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