On 30 October 2017, the right hon. Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC’s independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody was published, alongside the Government’s substantive response.
As part of their response, the Government commissioned the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody to play a leading role in considering Dame Elish’s most complex recommendations. Today, as co-chair of the Ministerial Board on Deaths In Custody—alongside Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Rory Stewart OBE MP—I report on the progress made in delivering this work programme.
We have made good progress in addressing Dame Elish’s recommendations, although, of course, there remains more to do. First, we have focused on support for families, which includes work on the provision of legal aid for bereaved families, making inquests more sympathetic to their needs and improving the information available immediately after an incident. Secondly, we have worked to ensure that organisations are held to account when a death in police custody occurs. We have reformed the Independent Office for Police Conduct to strengthen its independence and improve the timeliness of its investigations, and we have introduced reforms to strengthen the police discipline regime. Thirdly, and above all, we are committed to preventing deaths in police custody. We have significantly restricted the use of police stations as places of safety, the National Police Chiefs’ Council is driving progress in national training and assessing the health of detainees, and the Government are investing record levels in mental health, among other measures.
Every death in police custody is a tragedy. The impact is devastating on their loved ones. Dame Elish’s report has been a catalyst for change, and in my role as co-chair of the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody, I am determined that we sustain momentum in addressing the difficult issues at hand.
We will deliver a year two work programme which will continue to prioritise preventing deaths in police custody and in the tragic instances that they do occur, holding organisations to account and improving support for families.
I would like to thank Dame Elish again for her far-reaching contribution to this important issue, and Deborah Coles, who advised Dame Elish’s review, for her continued passion to enact change. Most importantly, I would like to thank the families who contributed to Dame Elish’s review and who continue to share their experiences so that we can learn from them.
I am placing a copy of our progress update in the Library of the House and on www.gov.uk.