‘Police must be reminded they cannot act with impunity following alarming rise in deaths after the use of force’
The campaigning charity INQUEST issued a press release (pdf) 24th August following the 3 deaths of men during contact with the police in the period 16 to 23 August. All the deaths involved the use of a taser and/or pepper spray and/or restraint. The dead men were Philip Hulmes, Jacob Michael, and Dale Burns. Helen Shaw, INQUEST Co-Director, said:
“The shocking reports about three tragic deaths in eight days following the use of force by police highlights INQUEST’s growing concern about deaths following contact with the police. For too long there has been a pattern of cases where inquest juries have found overwhelming evidence of unlawful and excessive use of force or gross neglect yet the police do not seem to have learnt the lessons from these previous deaths. Whilst we await the outcome of the inquests and investigations into these recent deaths it is imperative that the police are reminded that they cannot act with impunity.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says it has no plans to review the use of tasers or pepper spray. The IPCC is investigating the 3 deaths. The deaths come very soon after the shooting dead of Mark Duggan in Tottenham on 4 August (also being investigated by the IPCC), which sparked the riots in Tottenham on 6 August, and the subsequent wave of rioting across England.
INQUEST is a charity and campaigning group that provides advice to relatives of people who die in police custody or as a result of contact with the police. They also maintain a detailed database of deaths in police custody/contact, and of deaths in prison (as we noted in a previous article, a man killed himself in Bristol prison last weekend):
Deaths in police custody – 1990 to 2011 – 1411 dead
Deaths in prison – 1990 to 2011 – 2803 dead
Total deaths 1990 to present – 4214