The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today published its annual report on deaths during or following police contact in 2022/23.
Published for the 19th year, the statistics provide an official record setting out the number of such deaths, the circumstances in which they happen, and any underlying factors. Figures across the different categories can fluctuate each year, and any conclusions about trends need to be treated with caution.
The report shows:
There were 23 deaths in or following police custody, an increase of 12 from 2021/22, and the highest figure since 2017/18.
Eight people were taken ill or were identified as being unwell in a police cell. Five were taken to hospital where they later died. Three people died in a police custody suite.
Twelve people were taken ill at the scene of arrest. Eight people were taken to hospital, where they later died. Four people died at the scene.
One man was taken ill in a police vehicle, and was taken to hospital where he died.
One man died following release from police custody. The man had been taken to hospital after being charged and remanded.
One man died after leaving police detention. His body was found after going missing from hospital while still in the care of police and awaiting a mental health assessment.
There were three fatal police shootings, compared to two the previous year.
This year there were 28 fatalities from 26 police-related road traffic incidents (RTIs). This represents a decrease of 12 deaths on 2021/22. Of the 28 deaths, 20 fatalities arose from 18 police pursuit-related incidents. There were two emergency response-related incidents and fatalities, and six deaths related to other police traffic activity.
There were 52 apparent suicides following police custody, a decrease of five on the previous year.
The IOPC also investigated 90 other deaths following contact with the police in a wide range of circumstances, a decrease of 21 on 2021/22. Deaths are only included in this category when the IOPC has conducted an independent investigation.
Mental health concerns and links to drugs or alcohol were again common factors among many of those who died:
·of the 23 people who died in or following police custody, 13 had mental health concerns with four having been detained under the Mental Health Act, and 21 had links to drugs and/or alcohol,
almost two-thirds (55) of those who died following other police contact were reported to be intoxicated with drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the incident, or it featured heavily in their lifestyle, and a similar proportion (57) were reported to have mental health concerns.
Regarding road traffic fatalities:
·of the 20 pursuit-related fatalities, 12 were the driver or passenger in the pursued vehicle and five people were drivers or passengers of an unrelated vehicle which was hit by the pursued car. The average age of those who died as either driver or passenger in a pursued or fleeing vehicle was 28.
this year, only one pursuit-related incident resulted in multiple fatalities, and there was a decrease of 14 on the number of pursuit-related deaths from 2021/22.
Restraint and use of force:
11 of the 23 people who died in or following police custody had some use of force against them by the police before their deaths. In one of these deaths there was also restraint by members of the public. Three of the 11 deaths involving use of force included Taser discharge. There were six out of the 90 other deaths following contact investigated that involved restraint or other use of force by police. One of the six involved Taser discharge. The uses of force did not necessarily contribute to the deaths.
Of the 23 deaths in or following custody, 19 of the deceased were White, two were Black, one was of Mixed ethnicity and one was Asian,
One of the deceased fatally shot by police was Black,
Of the 11 deaths in or following custody where there was use of force, eight of the deceased were White, one was Black, one was of Mixed ethnicity and one was Asian,
Of the six other contact deaths involving use of force, four of the deceased were White and two were Black.
In the ‘other deaths’ category:
85fatalities followed contact with the police, either directly or indirectly, after concerns were raised about someone’s welfare – of these, 20 related to a report of a missing person; 15 were linked to concerns that were domestic related.
Of the 52 apparent suicides, 26 (50%) of those who died had been arrested for an alleged sexual offence – all but two of the 26 involved alleged offences against children.