IPCC launches review of Deaths in Custody

The IPCC is to conduct a root and branch review of the way it deals with Deaths in Custody cases.

The announcement follows the broadcast on Tuesday of a joint investigation by the Bureau and the BBC’s File on 4 that heavily criticised an official IPCC report and its data on deaths in custody cases.

The IPCC’s review aims to identify any necessary improvements at every level of its work in this area – from its approach, to available resources and powers.

It was described as a ‘stock taking exercise after eight years of operation’.

The commission has called on all stakeholders, including the media, to offer suggestions on the scope of the review.

Narrow definition
The IPCC has also offered the opportunity to collaborate in the process and to come on board as a part of the review’s steering group.

The submission deadline for comments to contribute to the IPCC’s review is March 20, with a final scope to be agreed by April.

The Bureau’s investigation into deaths in custody raised grave questions about the officially recognised numbers of people who have died as a result of restraint in police custody.

It found that the definition used by the IPCC of ‘in custody’, excludes anyone who has not been formally arrested.

The report also established that the IPCC’s definition of what can be considered a restraint death is very narrow.

The IPCC’s list excluded several controversial and high-profile deaths and one death that had prompted a Met review of how its officers use of restraint.

The IPCC’s Chief Executive, Jane Furniss, responded to the Bureau’s findings by saying: ‘I am completely confident in the statistics that we publish in this area however given the concerns raised this week, I have asked the National Statistician and Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, Jill Matheson, to conduct a review on how we collect, analyse and present our figures on deaths following police contact.’

Ms Furniss added: ‘The findings of that review will be published in due course.’