Highest number of police shootings recorded last year, says police watchdogThere were six fatal police shootings last year which is the highest figure since statistics were first collected, according to the police watchdog. Jon Robins reports on the latest stats

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) published their annual statistics yesterday which recorded 28 deaths related to police pursuits of vehicles and 14 deaths in police custody, the second lowest figure recorded by the IPCC in the 13 years since figures were compiled. The IPCC also reported 55 ‘apparent suicides’ following police custody.

Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, welcomed the drop in the number of deaths in custody. ‘Learning from our investigations has undoubtedly contributed to this fall,’ she said.  ‘However, each death is an individual tragedy, and it remains the case that the great majority of those dying both during and immediately after custody are vulnerable – through mental health and/or substance use problems.  This is a challenge for policing, but it is also a challenge for the other services that need to be properly resourced to provide support and alternatives to police custody.’

The watchdog is presently looking into the circumstances of the death of Rashan Charles who died following an incident in Hackney in the early hours of Saturday morning. According to the IPCC, the evidence ‘so far indicates that Mr Charles was detained by an MPS officer who had followed him on foot into a shop on Kingsland Road after an earlier attempted vehicle stop’. It continues: ‘The officer restrained Mr Charles, with assistance from a member of the public, and he was handcuffed. After he was detained attempts were made to remove an object from his mouth or throat. His condition deteriorated, and the officer called for a police medic who provided assistance prior to the arrival of paramedics.’

Charles was pronounced dead at 2:55am on Saturday at hospital.

According to Owers, one of the deaths in custody recorded in this years stats and eight of the other deaths investigated by the IPCC fell into this category.  ‘This does not necessarily mean that the restraint contributed to the death,’ she said.  ‘That is what we investigate.’

In relation to the increase in the number of fatal shootings this year, she pointed out there were 14,700 authorised firearms operations last year.  ‘The deaths happened across six forces, and one was terrorism-related.  It is important that each incident is thoroughly and independently investigated, to provide public reassurance.’

This article was published on July 26, 2007

Author: Jon Robins

Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon’s books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council’s journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year’s Criminal Justice Alliance’s journalism award

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