Bereaved relatives criticise police watchdog more than deaths in custody

Sean Rigg

Sean Rigg, who died in police custody in 2008. Photograph: PA

Bereaved families have criticised the police watchdog – the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – saying its members lack “empathy, sensitivity and compassion” when investigating deaths in police custody.

In an IPCC report into the way the commission handles inquiries, relatives stated they “felt they and individuals who had died were wrongly characterised or unfairly judged”. And the report noted the impression that police receive a lot more favourable treatment than members of the public.

The report, published on Monday, called for much better training for IPCC staff on problems associated to race and ethnicity, mental well being and learning disabilities.

It was welcomed by Marcia Rigg, the sister of Sean Rigg, a forty-year-outdated musician with psychological health difficulties who died in police custody in 2008. But she said the watchdog has “not won the families more than nevertheless”.

The overview recognized psychological wellness as a key concern in numerous of the deaths in police custody the IPCC investigates.

About half of the people who died in those circumstances in 2012-13, and practically two-thirds of those who apparently took their very own lives afterwards, are known to have had psychological well being issues.

The 111-webpage report also comprehensive issues raised over “inadequate consideration to detail and a failure to collect and collate all proof or to pursue all realistic lines of inquiry”.

The IPCC’s overview additional: “Families, their representatives and police officers criticised us for taking too long to comprehensive investigations, leading to additional pressure for all involved.”

It also set out a series of proposals created to increase IPCC investigations, like making police officers attend witness interviews as soon as attainable following an incident.

The charity Inquest contributed to the investigation. Its co-director, Deborah Coles, mentioned: “The absence of a robust police watchdog has allowed corruption and hazardous practices to go unchecked.

“Family members and public confidence will only be achieved if the IPCC delivers an investigation procedure that assures wrongdoing, misconduct and bad practice is uncovered and police are appropriately held to account.

Marcia Rigg mentioned: “We hope all the recommendations are implemented with no delay, and that as nicely as assisting us the evaluation will support other families and lead to efficient change in the way deaths in police custody are investigated.”

She criticised the unique inquiry into her brother’s death as a “Mickey Mouse investigation”.

She said: “In the first stages, a whole lot of our questions were not answered.

“We have been really concerned as to why the officers have been not being interviewed quickly and we had been extremely concerned that the officers have been allowed to collude in excess of their statements of fact whereas an ordinary member of the public would definitely not be permitted to do that. We found that extremely insensitive.”

The IPCC review explained there had been some reported examples of good practice in the commission’s engagement with bereaved households.

With reference to problems of discrimination, the watchdog explained it would, in all situations, take into account whether this required investigation.

It also stated it was supplying ongoing refresher instruction for both investigators and casework managers above how to deal with allegations of discrimination.

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