APCC launches guidance on preventing deaths in custody

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has published guidance to support the prevention of deaths that occur in police custody and apparent suicides shortly following release.

Jun 12, 2024
By Paul Jacques

Figures from the Independent Office for Police Conduct show that during 2022/23 there were 23 deaths in or following police custody. Thirteen of these people had mental health concerns.

During the same 12-month period there were 52 apparent suicides following release from police custody – 75 per cent (39) had known mental health concerns.

The APCC says its guidance provides useful advice, recommendations and case studies that, where possible, are supported by evaluation and evidence, in addition to gathering helpful resources and information into one convenient document.

APCC joint lead for mental health and custody, Merseyside police and crime commissioner (PCC) Emily Spurrell, said: “Police custody is an essential part of everyday policing that we must strive to get right every time.

“Each year, thousands of people enter police custody, many with significant vulnerabilities and multiple complex needs that require a caring and professional response.

“It’s vital we do everything possible to assess and reduce risk, and to help vulnerable people access vital support upon release.”

She added: “PCCs can play a key role locally in this work, encouraging forces and support providers to work together to reduce risk and encourage vulnerable people to access appropriate care.

As joint APCC mental health and custody lead, I’ve commissioned this guidance as an important step in supporting them to work with partners towards a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to deaths in custody and making police custody as safe as possible.

“My thanks go to everyone who has helped with its development, including the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.”

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