source: The Guardian
originally published: 25 July 2018
Twenty-three people died during or after police custody in 2017, the highest number for a decade, the police watchdog has said.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said three people died after being held in a police cell, and another five died after being held in a cell, becoming unwell and then being pronounced dead in hospital. It said another nine people died in hospital after falling ill at the scene of an arrest.
The IOPC also said that 17 people had been subjected to the use of force or restraint “by the police or others” before they died, but that did not mean the use of force was a factor in their deaths. Of the 17, those restrained in custody numbered 11, the IOPC said, while six were not classed as having been in custody or detained.
The figures are open to interpretation, but the IOPC said the vast majority of those who died had prior problems involving mental health, drugs or alcohol.
Twelve had “mental health concerns”, the watchdog said, and 18 “had links to drugs and/or alcohol”.
Of the 17 cases where force was used, the IOPC said nine people were white and eight were black. That means the proportion of black people dying after the use of force or restraint continues to be higher than the proportion of black people in the population of England and Wales.