A new report from INQUEST has revealed black men are seven times more likely to die following police restraint. Meanwhile, families are unable to get accountability for racism after the deaths of loved ones from a system not “fit for purpose”.
INQUEST investigated the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to identify how accountability for racism is handled. INQUEST found the system was not addressing racial discrimination meaningfully and was ignorant to the evidence of such behaviour.
This has been a lengthy issue in Britain, exemplified by recent high-profile cases of Chris Kaba, Oladeji Omishore, and Godrick Osei. INQUEST are calling for a “transformative change” to prevent future deaths. For the first time, the new report highlights several issues of institutional racism in the police force.
Black people are seven times more likely to die than White people are where police restraint is used. The Director of INQUEST, Deborah Coles, noted that the evidence points to the ‘deeply rooted patterns of systemic racism, across police forces and across time, are resulting in disproportionate numbers of deaths of Black men following the use of restraint.’
None of the deaths of Black people following police custody have resulted in officers being disciplined for racism either at a misconduct or a criminal level.
Although data clearly highlights a racial disproportionality, accountability processes do not effectively nor substantially consider the potential part racism has played in these deaths. Some of the leading human rights lawyers in Britain informed INQUEST that the role of racism is not sufficiently considered by the post-death investigation system.
‘Institutional racism is embedded in police culture and practice which equates Black men with dangerousness and criminality,’ INQUEST director Deborah Coles said. The patterns emerging from the deaths of Black men in police custody signal racist stereotypes of Black men being dangerous and criminal by the police. Officers have been notably quick to escalate their use of force against Black men, especially those in the midst of a mental health crisis, like Oladeji Omishore who was tasered by police and drowned after falling into the River Thames as a result of the force.
Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg who died following a cardiac arrest whilst in police custody, said ‘the pattern is that the police are scared of Black men.’