Witness appeal following death of man in custody in Liverpool

Published: 05 Apr 2023

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is appealing for witnesses to assist with our investigation into the death of a man in police custody in Liverpool.

The man who died has been formally identified as 44-year-old James Riley. Mr Riley died in hospital on Wednesday 15 March, having been transferred there from St Anne Street police station where he had been in custody overnight.

Prior to Mr Riley’s arrest, he was approached by Merseyside Police officers in the Scotland Road area of Liverpool at around 9.45pm on Tuesday 14 March. At around 5pm the next day, staff became aware that he required medical attention. Paramedics were called and the man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A post-mortem was carried out on 17 March. Further tests are being carried out to help determine the cause of Mr Riley’s death.

As part of our independent investigation, which follows a referral by the force, investigators have obtained CCTV and body-worn video footage and conducted house to house enquiries.

During our enquiries, we have been made aware of a blue car that turned left from Great Homer Street into Chapel Gardens at approximately 9.35pm on 14 March when Mr Riley was detained. We believe the driver of the vehicle may have witnessed the arrest and be able to assist with our enquiries.

IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Mr Riley’s family and friends and anyone affected by his death. Our team has been in contact with the family to explain our role, offer advice and support, and to outline the next steps of our independent investigation.

“Any loss of life is a tragedy, and our investigation will be thorough and independent to ensure we understand the circumstances that led up to Mr Riley’s death. If you believe you have any information, or footage of Mr Riley’s interaction with police, I urge you to get in touch.

“We are particularly keen to speak to the driver of the blue car in the area, who we believe may have witnessed the arrest and be able to assist with our enquiries.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the IOPC on 03003035736 or email the IOPC at [email protected]

  • Merseyside Police