Start your claim

September 7th 2017

Andrew Petherbridge

Report into police custody deaths highlights conferring over statements, treatment of mentally ill and use of excessive restraint as concerns

Andrew Petherbridge

Andrew Petherbridge

Legal Executive and Head of Civil Liberties

Report into police custody deaths highlights conferring over statements, treatment of mentally ill and use of excessive restraint as concerns

It seems highly significant that an official review into police custody deaths is set to lead to more than 100 recommendations being made in a bid to make far-reaching reforms to the UK police and justice system.

It seems highly significant that an official review into police custody deaths is set to lead to more than 100 recommendations being made in a bid to make far-reaching reforms to the UK police and justice system.

The findings of the report, which are still to be officially published but have been reported by the Guardian newspaper in advance, do not reflect well on the actions of police forces across the UK when taking people into custody.

According to the newspaper article, a ‘racial disproportionality in police restraint deaths’ has been highlighted, with calls made for forces to be held to account on “an individual and corporate levels” if restraint of a suspect is deemed excessive, unnecessary or disproportionate.

The recommendations of Dame Elish Angiolini QC, a former chief lawyer to the Scottish government, also appear to call into question the integrity of some police forces following deaths in custody.

It is said to highlight ‘conferring’ between officers after incidents and before they make their individual statements is a matter of concern.

The report is also said to highlight “victim blaming” – in which police forces leak details to the media after a death in a bid to “deflect blame” – as another area of worry.

Such findings certainly do little to boost public confidence in our police forces and suggest Theresa May was right in her actions when ordering this this report when still Home Secretary.

When finally published, the finding and conclusions of this report could further damage that level of trust between families and communities and our police forces.

Sadly, many people are unjustly treated badly, and then find obstructions in their way when looking to challenge the actions of those employed to uphold the law.

Calls for major change in police custody

One of the most significant aspects of the report, as reported by the Guardian, is a call for a ban on those detained under mental health powers being held in police cells, and being transported in police vehicles, except in exceptional cases.

The report is expected to say that holding those believed to be suffering from mental health issues in police cells should be phased out completely, and this is certainly something I believe is a much needed change.

Too often, in the cases I have seen in my work as a civil liberties specialist at Hudgell Solicitors and read about, the mental capacity of an individual when being taken into custody has not been considered early enough in the matter.

The report is set to urge mental health training of the same standard across all 44 forces in England and Wales for officers, new recruits, plus refresher training.

I believe this would make officers better placed to spot when people have mental health challenges, and have a hugely positive impact on policing and reducing health risks.

Cameras in police vans and on all officers would eliminate conflicting accounts

It is also very interesting to read that Dame Angiolini is to call for video cameras in every police van used to transport a prisoner, and on every frontline officer.

This again would be a very valuable change, as I have worked on cases where the events around an arrest – and during transportation of a suspect to a station – have been strongly disputed and inconsistent.

Without any video footage it can be very difficult to draw an accurate conclusion as to what actually happened. There can, however, rarely be dispute over clear video evidence.

I also welcome moves to ensure families of those who die in police custody will receive “free, non means-tested” legal advice from the start of the process, through to an inquest.

At present, police and state organisations are publicly funded to defend themselves against accusations of wrongdoing and misconduct, while families are often left struggling to get legal aid to cover the cost of holding forces to account.

Finally, the report is to call on the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to robustly challenge discrimination – even to where it can simply have been ‘inferred’ – and to establish a deaths and serious injuries unit.

It says the IPCC must do better in its work to gain public confidence, calling on it to formally request in writing the suspension of officers under investigation for criminal matters or for gross misconduct, or placing them on restricted duties, with a presumption they will be dismissed if found guilty.

Thankfully, the numbers of deaths in police custody have been declining, from 65 in 1998 to 17 last year and 14 the previous year.

But still, given the huge amount of recommendations being made here, it is clear that major improvements are needed.

These changes need to be made quickly to improve the relationship and trust between public and police.

What Our Clients Say

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Anthony and his team at Hudgell…"

Anthony and his team at Hudgell solicitors are extremely professional and caring People. From the first phone conversation right through to completion i was always kept updated, if i had any concerns and contacted them, they were always happy to listen and put my mind at rest. I would highly…

Mrs lisa martinJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Great service . Made me feel at ease . Proffesional and very quick to respond to any questions or concerns I would highly reccomend

LesleyJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service

JensonJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service, Alex Garven was most helpful in dealing with my claim. Many thanks for his hard work in getting a result for me,. It took quite a while but during that time I received regular progress updates and a quick response if I had any queries .

Jill ElliottJanuary 15, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Lauren Dale"

Lauren Dale was so sensitive when dealing with my mums claim and she totally understood what i really wanted from the outcome. she kept me fully informed of everything, as and when it happened. I cannot thank her enough for her help and understanding on such a sensitive case. 5…

Jane from North YorkshieJanuary 11, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent Service"

Excellent, professional and friendly solicitors. It was a very simple process and they kept in constant contact to update me on any developments. Would definitely recommend.

Philippa January 09, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Could not have been simpler or easier"

Could not have been simpler or easier, they did everything required and more. Nice, pleasant to talk to, they do all the leg work, put everything into context and resolve as quick as possible. Hopefully will not have to use again but if a situation arises then would not hesitate…

DarrenJanuary 08, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very helpful and always kept in touch…"

Very helpful and always kept in touch via email through the while process. Highly recommended

Joseph Conrad Waudby January 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Brilliant customer service"

Brilliant customer service, always will contact you as they say they will. Have been very helpful with my case and explained the process thoroughly, very easy to understand. Would definitely recommend.

Julia MatildaJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Verry happy with the result they got…"

Verry happy with the result they got for my claim very officiant and professional my particular solicitor was the most friendly official type person that I have dealt with before really happy with the freindly kind manner in which they dealt with myself and my claim I would recommend them…

Richard RobertsJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very impressed with the fast turn…"

Very impressed with the fast turn around of Hudgell. Very responsive and friendly too.

CustomerJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Wonderful service"

Wonderful service, was kept up to date regularly and once they received an offer to settle my case, they advised that they could get a better offer and did just that, will definitely pick up the phone again if I ever require their services in future.

Jordan HowarthJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"These solicitors were very helpful and…"

These solicitors were very helpful and I was surprised when they told me that they were pursuing a totally different avenue to the one I thought was available. They were very efficient, constantly in communication with myself and were direct with the opposite party. Needless to say, they won my…

GARY COSGROVEJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Take a leaf out of there book"

I would certainly recommend Was kept up to date via email promptly each time I asked a question Postal and email correspondence was fluent and my claim settled in a timely manner Many thanks to Alex and his hard work

Mandy Michelle WainwrightJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors…"

Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors to go through my claim with, Sarah informed me every step of the way (even when they was nothing to update me with) was such a quick process and she couldn’t of been more helpful ! 5*

Courtney FriendJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"karl griffin fantastic man"

karl griffin was fantastic extremely helpful and fought every step of the way for me he was always there whenever i needed him i highly recommend hudgell solicitors to anyone who needs there help they made a horrible situation dissappear

Jeni DaleJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Alex is amazing"

Alex is amazing! He took over my claim and everything changed from negative to positive. Case still ongoing but fantastic service so far from Alex. Great communication - answering calls and emails. Spot on in everything. I am very glad he is handling my case now and I am confident…

Seth OppongDecember 27, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Highly recommended"

Excellent service and communication from start to finish. The whole process of handling my personal injury claim was dealt with quickly and courteously.

MikeNovember 26, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Becci was amazing"

Becci was amazing, she was so friendly and helpful and couldn’t have done a better job at helping me with my claim. Very happy.

Katherine JanineNovember 08, 2019