IOPC publishes figures on deaths during or following police contact for 2018/19

Published: 05 Sep 2019

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today published its annual report on deaths during or following police contact in 2018/19.

It shows:

  • There were 16 deaths in or following police custody, a decrease of seven from a ten-year high in 2017/18, and in line with the average figure for over the last decade. No deaths took place within a police custody suite. Six people died in hospital after becoming unwell in a police cell, and six people were taken ill at the scene of arrest and died in hospital.
  • There were three fatal police shootings, compared to four fatalities last year.
  • There were 42 road traffic fatalities, an increase of 13 on last year and the highest figure in the past decade; 30 of the deaths were from police pursuit-related incidents, an increase of 13 from last year; five fatalities resulted from emergency response incidents, a decrease of three from last year.
  • There were 63 apparent suicides following police custody, a small increase on the previous year.
  • The IOPC also investigated 152 other deaths following contact with the police in a wide range of circumstances, a small decrease on the previous year. Deaths are only included in this category when the IOPC has conducted an independent investigation.

Mental health and links to drugs or alcohol were again common factors among many of those who died:

  • 10 of the 16 people who died in or following police custody had mental health concerns, and 13 had links to drugs and/or alcohol,
  • over half (90) of those who died following other police contact were reported to be intoxicated with drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the incident, or it featured heavily in their lifestyle. Over two-thirds (104) were reported to have mental health concerns.

Concerning road traffic fatalities:

  • this year five pursuit-related incidents accounted for 14 deaths, whereas no such incidents resulted in multiple fatalities in 2017/18;
  • Of the 30 pursuit-related fatalities, 20 were the driver or passenger in the pursued vehicle, and ten were in an unrelated vehicle or were a pedestrian hit by the car being pursued.

In the ‘other deaths’ category:

  • 127 fatalities followed contact with the police, either directly or indirectly, after concerns were raised about someone’s welfare – of these, 35 related to a report of a missing person, and 23 were linked to concerns that were domestic related.
  • Of the 63 apparent suicides, 21 (33%) of those who died had been arrested for an alleged sexual offence – 15 (24%) of these involved offences against children, in line with average figures.

The statistics include some force-specific data. Additional data tables are available on the IOPC website.

  • Custody and detention
  • Death and serious injury