In December last year I updated Parliament on the Government’s review of the forum for preventing deaths in custody as one aspect of its continued commitment to bring about real changes and improvements to reduce deaths of people being held in our custodial care (Official Report, 13 December 2007, col. 65WS). The review was being conducted by Robert Fulton, a former Home Office director. I am pleased to inform the House that Ministers have now received his report and I am making it available today.
Mr Fulton has recommended significant changes to the existing arrangements. An advisory panel on deaths in custody, formed of experts in the subject matter from outside Government Departments and operational services, would become the principal source of advice to a ministerial board on deaths in custody. The advisory panel would be supported by a broadly based practitioner and stakeholder group comparable to the existing forum. The board, replacing the ministerial round table on suicide, would bring together decision makers responsible for deaths in custody issues in the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Department of Health.
The Government welcome this report and will be giving it careful consideration, taking into account the views of forum and round table members and others in and out of Parliament with an interest in death in custody issues. In making final decisions, Ministers will be considering such factors as the likelihood of the proposed structural changes delivering effective reductions in deaths in custody and cost.
Copies of the review of the forum for preventing deaths in custody have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies are also available on the internet at www.preventingcustodydeaths.org.uk.