IOPC Director General comments on annual deaths statistics report

Published: 25 Jul 2018

The IOPC has today published its annual ‘Deaths during or following police contact’ report for 2017/18.

Commenting on the figures, IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said: “Our annual report into deaths during or following police contact presents valuable information for the police service and beyond. Every death is a tragic loss for the families involved, and it is vital that each one is thoroughly investigated. This report sheds light on the wide array of circumstances which can culminate in police-related deaths.

“As the first director general of the IOPC, I am determined that we raise awareness of these cases. It is important that we help police and other agencies learn lessons from our investigations to prevent future deaths, and that we hold the police to account where they act improperly.

“Numbers across the categories of deaths fluctuate year on year, and care needs to be exercised in considering them against a backdrop of the numerous interactions the police have with the public each year.

“The rise in deaths in police custody this year, which includes at the point of arrest, in transit, in cells or in hospital, is concerning viewed against a trend of falling numbers over the last decade. Each of these tragic deaths is subject to investigation and we await formal causes of death for most of them. What is clear is that many present a complex and challenging set of factors, with links to drugs and alcohol and mental health concerns being very prevalent among those who have died.

“The issues go wider than the police service, as officers can often be dealing with vulnerable people whose needs and risks may not have been adequately managed elsewhere. However, it is important when the police are involved that they are properly trained and equipped to manage the challenges they inevitably face, and that they learn from past mistakes.

“Through the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody and follow up to the Angiolini Review into serious incidents and deaths, we are contributing to ongoing work streams across the policing and public sector to add our expertise to tackling the challenge.”