Response to the independent review into death and serious incidents in police custody

Chief constables and the professional body for policing have today responded to a national report into deaths in police custody and outlined how they will support officers.

Following publication of the final report from the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody conducted by Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing have launched a video to help officers recognise a medical emergency in custody and act quickly to resolve it.

The video, entitled ’60 Seconds to Save a Life’, will help officers to consider the risks of restraint and act quickly where there could be potential risks to health.

Richard Bennett, College of Policing lead for Uniformed Policing, said:

“Every death in police custody is a tragedy, and more so when they are found to have been preventable.

“Today’s report is a valuable contribution towards reducing to a minimum the number of deaths following police contact and we will give its findings full consideration. In particular, the experiences of families affected by the tragic deaths highlighted in this report play a central role in shaping its recommendations to inform future improvements in policing.

“The report recognises that there have been reductions in the number of deaths over the past two decades and that this is likely to reflect improved practices, including amongst police officers and staff who care for vulnerable people in police custody.

“The College, with the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), has been recognised for providing officers and police staff with guidance and learning which has a strong and informed focus on prevention. The report is clear that restraining people who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others is sometimes unavoidable and that, in such cases, the person being restrained can sometimes suffer harm that requires immediate medical attention.

“We are not complacent and know we must continually improve guidance and learning to ensure officers and staff have the skills and knowledge required to support and inform their decision making.”

Chief constables will study the recommendations of Dame Angiolini’s report closely and consider the implications for policing.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for custody, Chief Constable Nicholas Ephgrave said:

“I welcome Dame Angiolini’s review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody. Police officers across the country strive every day to protect the vulnerable and save life, often in difficult and complex situations. Every death is a tragedy for the family and friends of the deceased and each death profoundly affects all those who were in any way involved with that individual during their time in custody.   

“We have already been working to respond to the risks associated with the custody process but there is clearly more to do. We are determined to use this report to further improve and refine our practice.

“This report makes clear that the issues associated with deaths in custody cannot be addressed by the police service alone and so we are working with partner agencies including the National Health Service, College of Policing and the Home Office. Our aim is to ensure officers are trained to use the right form of restraint in the circumstances based on an assessment of risk, we are able to identify vulnerabilities when someone is brought into custody, and, where appropriate, people are transferred to health services as quickly as possible.

“The video launched today as part of a new awareness campaign aimed at the most critical points in the detention and custody process will help officers make quick decisions to intervene early and prevent loss of life in custody.”

Contact Information

James Baker

Press Officer

College of Policing

0203 8370435

Notes to editors

  • ’60 Seconds to Save a Life’ is published on the College of Policing YouTube channel here.
  • College of Policing Detention and Custody Authorised Professional Practice (APP) can be found here.
  • The NPCC National Custody Strategy can be found here.