IOPC publishes figures on deaths during or following police contact for 2021/22

Published: 28 Sep 2022

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today published its annual report on deaths during or following police contact in 2021/22.

Published for the 18th year, the statistics provide an official record setting out the number of such deaths, the circumstances in which they happen, and any underlying factors. Figures across the different categories can fluctuate each year, and any conclusions about trends need to be treated with caution.

The report shows:

  • There were 11 deaths in or following police custody, a decrease of eight from 2020/21, and the joint lowest figure since these statistics began in 2004/05.
    • Five people were taken ill or were identified as being unwell in a police cell, two of whom were taken to hospital where they died on arrival, or sometime later, and three people died in a police custody suite.
    • Two people were taken ill at the scene of arrest. One person was taken to hospital, where they later died. The other person died at the scene.
    • Two people were taken ill in a police vehicle, both of whom were taken to hospital where they died.
    • Two people died following release from police custody.
  • There were two fatal police shootings, compared to one the previous year.
  • This year there were 39 fatalities from 32 police-related road traffic incidents (RTIs). This represents an increase of 14 deaths on 2020/21, and is the highest figure recorded since 2018/19. Of the 39 deaths, 33 fatalities arose from 26 police pursuit-related incidents. There were three emergency response-related incidents and fatalities.
  • There were 56 apparent suicides following police custody, an increase of one on the previous year.
  • The IOPC also investigated 109 other deaths following contact with the police in a wide range of circumstances, an increase of 14 on the previous year. Deaths are only included in this category when the IOPC has conducted an independent investigation.

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

  • six of the 11 people who died in or following police custody had mental health concerns, and nine had links to drugs and/or alcohol,
  • almost half (54) 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. Sixty percent (66) were reported to have mental health concerns.

Regarding road traffic fatalities:

  • of the 33 pursuit-related fatalities, 25 were the driver or passenger in the pursued vehicle and three people were pedestrians who were hit by the pursued or suspect vehicle. The average age of those who died as either driver or passenger in a pursued or fleeing vehicle was 27.
  • this year, five of the 26 pursuit-related incidents resulted in 12 fatalities.

Restraint and use of force:

  • Four of the 11 people who died in or following police custody had been restrained by the police (3) or others (1) before their deaths. There were seven, out of the 109 other deaths following contact investigated, that involved restraint or other use of force by police. One of the seven involved restraint by members of the public in addition to police. The use of force did not necessarily contribute to the death.


  • Of the 11 deaths in or following custody, 10 of the deceased were White and one was Black,
  • One of the deceased fatally shot by police was Black,
  • Of the four deaths in or following custody where restraint was used, three of the deceased were White and one was Black,
  • Of the seven other contact deaths involving use of force, five of the deceased were White, one was Black, and one was Asian.

In the ‘other deaths’ category:

  • 98 fatalities followed contact with the police, either directly or indirectly, after concerns were raised about someone’s welfare – of these, 13 related to a report of a missing person; 25 were linked to concerns that were domestic related.

Apparent suicides:

  • Of the 56 apparent suicides, 30 (54%) of those who died had been arrested for an alleged sexual offence – of the 30, 27 (48% of deaths) involved alleged offences against children. These proportions are higher than the figures recorded last year (48% and 39% respectively), and higher than average figures.

The report ‘Deaths during of following police contact: Statistics for England and Wales 2021/22’ is available here. The statistics include some force-specific data. Additional data tables are also available on the IOPC website.

  • Death and serious injury
  • Road traffic incidents
  • Use of force and armed policing
  • Welfare and vulnerable people