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Police custody deaths hit highest level in decade
July 26, 2018
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LONDON: Deaths in or following policy custody have hit a 10-year high, with the figure soaring by more than 64 per cent in the past year, new data shows.

Figures published by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) shows there were 23 police custody deaths in 2017/18, compared with just 14 the year before, marking a sharp spike amid a trend of falling numbers over the last decade.

Of the 23 fatalities, 17 had been restrained or had force used against them by the police or others before their deaths. More than half (12) had mental health concerns and over 75 per cent (18) had links to drugs and/or alcohol.

Of the 17 who were restrained, nine were white and eight were black, which will fuel existing concerns that racial stereotyping is playing a role in deaths that occur in custody across England and Wales.

Among the high-profile deaths were 20-year-old Rashan Charles, who died after being chased and apprehended by police in Hackney, London, last summer.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Charles, who was father to a young daughter, died during the struggle due to a blocked upper airway caused by a small package containing a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol.

A second fatality was Kevin Clarke, 35, who died after coming into contact with police during a mental health crisis on a residential street in Lewisham in March.

The IOPC said the rise in deaths was “concerning” and that many presented a complex and challenging set of factors, namely a prevalence of links to drugs and alcohol and mental health concerns.

The Independent

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