Tuesday 13 December 2016

Thousands Of People Killed Themselves During Police Custodial Booking


The human rights watchdog has called for the NHS to take over the healthcare of people detained in police stations after it found that 400 people had killed themselves shortly after being released from custody in England and Wales in the past seven years.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it had unearthed “serious gaps” in the care of people who had been in custody. Almost all the deaths happened within 48 hours of release and around a third involved people who had been arrested over allegations of sexual abuse.

David Isaac, chairman of the group, said: “When the state detains people, it also has a very high level of responsibility to ensure they are safely rehabilitated back into their communities, particularly those who may be vulnerable.

“Our report reveals a fractured state of post-detention care that is potentially leading to hundreds of deaths.”

The Home Office said that while the figures showed a slight fall in the past year, every death in or following police custody “represents a failure and has the potential to dramatically undermine the relationship between the police and the communities they serve”.

The EHRC said it had launched the review because “considerably” less attention was paid to those who died in the “immediate aftermath” of detention compared with those who died while in custody.

Data obtained by the watchdog from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) showed that among the 400 deaths between April 2009 and the end of March 2016, 128 people killed themselves after they had been arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse.

The report said sex offenders, especially those who committed offences against children, were likely to feel “high levels of shame and experience high levels of social exclusion”.

There were also 83 people who had been investigated over crimes of violence, 44 who had faced breach of the peace or criminal damage allegations, and 38 who had been detained on suspicion of driving offences.

The number of cases generally rose over the period analysed by the EHRC, but in 2015/16 dropped to the lowest level since 2011/12, from 70 the previous year to 60. The full report, which also looked at deaths following release from prison, will be released on Tuesday.



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