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Preventing Deaths in Custody

Volume 490: debated on Friday 27 March 2009

The Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody today publishes its final annual report. The forum has been independently chaired, and its policy positions have not always coincided with Government policy, I nevertheless welcome this report.

Every death in custody is a personal tragedy for those left behind and I recognise that the numbers are still too high. Bringing about a reduction in the number of deaths in custody remains a priority for the Government, and that is why, in July 2008, the Under- Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle), announced a radical overhaul of the machinery for dealing with this important issue, following an independent review, Official Report, 21 July 2008 column 75WS. The new Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody that was announced by my hon. Friend will commence work in April 2009. I believe it will build on the good work of the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody, and will further contribute to our learning from deaths in custody across all custodial settings.

I also take this opportunity to record my gratitude to the forum’s outgoing chair, John Wadham. Mr. Wadham was heavily involved in the forum’s inception in 2005, and he has chaired it since that time, latterly in a voluntary capacity. I believe he has made a significant contribution to the objective of ensuring the safety of those held in state custody, and to the solid foundations the forum has laid for the future.

Copies of the 2007-08 annual report of the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are available from the forum’s website: