Indigenous deaths worse following tracking by Deaths Inside Project

Torture Hands In Prisonsource: The Guardian
published: 22 August 2019

Indigenous deaths in custody have worsened in the 12 months since Guardian Australia released its Deaths Inside project, with 17 more deaths recorded since August last year.

Analysis shows that government failures to follow their own procedures and provide appropriate medical care to Indigenous people in custody are major causes of the rising rates of Indigenous people dying in jail.

In August 2018, an exclusive analysis of 10 years of coronial data found 407 Indigenous people had died in police or prison custody since the end of the royal commission in 1991.

As of today, that figure has increased to 424. The federal government has failed to respond to two major reviews on Indigenous imprisonment delivered in that time.

And, despite the offer of federal funding, only three jurisdictions – Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory – have implemented a custody notification service (CNS) to match the life-saving program operating in New South Wales.

The CNS is a 24-hour phone line for Aboriginal people taken into police custody. The NSW service takes about 15,000 calls a year, and only one Indigenous person has died in police custody since it was implemented 18 years ago.

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