Socialist Worker

Tories try to hide report into deaths in custody

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2570

Edson Da Costa’s father Ginario (right) before the funeral

Edson Da Costa’s father Ginario (right) before Edson's funeral on Friday of last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The government is delaying the publication of a Home Office report into deaths in police custody that criticises the cops.

Theresa May commissioned the report as home secretary in 2015. She hoped it would restore faith in the cops and “transform the relationship between the public and the police”.

But the report, according to the Guardian newspaper, found “evidence” of racism and called for sweeping changes on police use of restraint.

“There is evidence of disproportionate deaths of black and minority ethnic people in restraint-related deaths,” it said.

Dame Elish Angiolini QC’s report condemned “victim blaming”. This is where information is leaked to the media following a death and leads to “false narratives”. These can be seen as “deflecting blame” from police actions.

The leaked report follows a number of recent deaths of black men following contact with the cops.

These include Edson Da Costa, who died in June, and Darren Cumberbatch and Rashan Charles, who died in July.

Over 150 people paid their respects to Edson at his funeral on Friday of last week.

The Justice for Edson campaign has demanded that police officers involved in his death be suspended. It is also calling for the Home Office report to be published.

The report makes over 100 recommendations.

It calls for video cameras to be used in every police van that is used to transport prisoners, and on every frontline officer.

Conferring 

It says cops should stop conferring after an incident and before making statements.

And it demands a ban on people detained under mental health powers being held in police cells.

The report recommends that families of people who die in police custody should receive “free, non means-tested” legal advice. Currently cops receive public funding to defend themselves.

But not every death following contact with the police is classed as a death in custody, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The report says the police’s pet watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), must do more to gain public confidence.

It says the IPCC should formally request that officers under investigation for crimes or gross misconduct be suspended or placed on restricted duties.

It says cops must be held accountable at an “individual and corporate level” if excessive restraint is used.

It calls on the IPCC to challenge discrimination where there is evidence of it and “where it can be inferred”.

The report was due to be completed last summer. The Home Office said it would be published in “due course”.

Another report into racism in the justice system, by David Lammy MP, was due to be published on Friday.

Justice for Edson campaign launch meeting. Thursday 7 September, 7.30pm at Durning Hall, Earlham Grove, Forest Gate, E7 9AB.

Speakers include Labour councillor Rokhsana Fiaz

 


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