The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is today publishing its annual report on deaths during or following police contact in 2017/18.
• There were 23 deaths in or following police custody, an increase of nine from last year. This is the highest number for a decade, but remains lower than the figure recorded in 2004 (36) when the IOPC began to report these deaths. Three people died in a police cell, and five died in hospital after becoming unwell in custody. Nine people were taken ill at the scene of arrest and died in hospital.
• There were four fatal police shootings, compared to six last year. Three of this year’s shootings were from the Borough Market terrorist attack.
• There were 29 road traffic fatalities, an overall decrease of three on last year; 17 of the deaths were from police pursuit-related incidents, a reduction from last year (28); eight fatalities resulted from emergency response incidents, the highest figure recorded since 2004/05.
• There were 57 apparent suicides following police custody, the same as in the previous year, and in line with figures recorded over the last 10 years.
• The IOPC also investigated 170 other deaths following contact with the police in a wide range of circumstances, up from 132 the previous year. Deaths are only included in this category when the IOPC has conducted an independent investigation. This figure therefore reflects a substantial increase in the number of independent investigations the IOPC has been carrying out, rather than any definite rise in people dying in such circumstances.
As in previous years, mental health and links to drugs or alcohol were common factors among many of those who died:
– 12 of the 23 people who died in or following police custody had mental health concerns.
– 18 people who died in or following police custody had links to drugs and/or alcohol.
Seventeen people who died in or following police custody or other contact had been restrained or had force used against them by the police or others before their deaths. The use of force did not necessarily contribute to the deaths. Of these 17 people, nine were White and eight were Black.
• Of the 17 pursuit-related fatalities, 12 people were the driver or a passenger in a vehicle being pursued by the police when it crashed. Of these, one person was riding a motorbike, and in another incident the person was riding a moped. Of the 29 road traffic fatalities, 13 people who died during pursuit or emergency response incidents were in an unrelated vehicle or a pedestrian.
• Of the 170 ‘other deaths’ category, 146 fatalities followed contact with the police, either directly or indirectly, after concerns were raised about someone’s welfare – of these, 45 died following report of a missing person and 43 related to concern about a person’s risk of self-harm, risk of suicide, or mental health. Twenty-one fatalities followed concern for welfare linked to domestic related incidents – broadly the same proportion as last year.
• Of the 57 apparent suicides, 29 (51%) of those who died had been arrested for an alleged sexual offence – 25 (44%) of these involved offences against children. These are the second highest proportions recorded since 2004/05.