UK PM’s response to No10 custody death petition


Statement issued by 10 Downing Street
28th April 2009

The Government takes this issue very seriously. The Government also deeply sympathises with those who have lost family members in such tragic circumstances.


All incidents where someone has died following direct or indirect contact with the police must, by law, be referred by the force concerned to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), an independent body with responsibility for the police complaints system and the investigation of the most serious incidents. The IPCC will then assess whether the matter should be investigated using its own investigators or whether the matter can be investigated by the police under the direction and control or supervision of the IPCC.

If, during the course of an investigation, there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings, then that person is informed that they are subject of investigation. A decision will also be made as to whether the person subject to investigation should be suspended from duty whilst the investigation takes place.

At the conclusion of the investigation, if there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence, the matter will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision as to whether any charges should be brought. This procedure will be followed irrespective of whether the officer subject to investigation has retired or resigned from the police service.

Whether a case should be reviewed again following an ‘unlawful killing’ verdict at an inquest is also a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Mental Health Act Commission reviews the deaths of all patients who have died from non-natural causes. The Commission publishes information on the deaths of detained patients in its Biennial Report. In all circumstances families should be informed about the process of investigation and how they may be involved.

All prisoner deaths are investigated by the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). Following a death the PPO investigates and publishes a report of their findings after the inquest. Moreover, all deaths in prison custody are also subject to a Coroner’s inquest before a jury.

More generally, the Government seeks to help the families of those who die in state custody through the provision of timely, sympathetic information and support. The National Offender Management Service, for example, has developed an effective system of well-trained family liaison officers which is improving its work with families in these circumstances, and the PPO assigns a family liaison officer in every case they independently investigate.


Many thanks for your continued support.
The 4WardEver UK Team

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One Comment

  1. Tippa, Yes I agree, this is an absolutely lame and robotical response – It’s sad that we have to spell out to them that the system they currently have in place is failing families appallingly. We may have to start another petition in more detail pointing out the detailed failings of the IPCC, police investigations into prison deaths and the Mental Heath Act Commission.

    I spoke Brenda Weinberg (UFFC) recently and her suggestion is that we draw up a questionnaire which will be distributed by INQUEST to all victims families, for their experiences of the IPCC and appropriate bodies on their investigations into their loved ones death.

    It will be quite a simple questionnaire consisting of around 3 questions where their response can be as detailed as they wish. This we will send up to the relevant ministers so they have a proper account of public feeling – we are in the process of drawing up the questions and discussing with INQUEST how we can take this forward.

    Stay in touch.