Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Deaths in custody

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The death of people who are in the custody of the state always raises questions about how they were being treated, and whether more could have been done to prevent the death. A Ministerial group used to consider cases of suicide by those in custody but these arrangements were the subject of criticism in 2008. In later 2008, a new Ministerial Council on deaths in custody was established. It is advised by an Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) on Deaths in Custody. Chaired by Lord Toby Harris, the IAP will help to shape government policy in  this  area through the provision of independent advice and expertise to the  Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody.  The remit of the Council covers deaths, which occur in prisons, in or following police custody, immigration detention, the deaths of residents of approved premises and the deaths of those detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) in hospital. The principles and lessons learned as part of this work will also apply to the deaths of those detained under the Mental Capacity Act in hospital.

This is not a part of the justice system that is widely known about or understood. The IAP has recently launched a new website which makes available to a wider audience reports and other information about policy and practice in this important aspect of the way detainees are treated in custody. For further information, see


Written by lwtmp

February 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

Posted in Chapter 5

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