Between 1998 and 2009, according to the IPCC, there were 16 cases of restraint related deaths in police custody.
The data, however, on which this conclusion was based was not available for scrutiny.
After months of protracted argument and Freedom of Information requests the IPCC finally released to the Bureau the names of 86 people who died in circumstances where restraint was used but was not necessarily a direct cause of death.
It is from this that the list of 16 is derived.
We cross-referenced these names with other cases in the public domain and found there were other cases that did not appear in the list of 16, in which restraint clearly played a part in the deaths.
This included the case of Simon Bosworth, a property valuer in Peterborough, who died after police restrained him, possibly as he was having an epileptic fit.
It turns out the IPCC has a very tight definition of ‘in custody’ – defined only as when someone has been formally arrested or detained under the mental health act. This does not include people who have died simply after being in contact with the police.
Despite the fact that the IPCC conducted its own investigation into Mr Bosworth’s death and cited prone restraint and struggling as part of the cause of death – his name is not included in either the IPCC’s list of 16 or the total list of 86.
When asked about this omission, Tom Bucke, head of analytical services at the IPCC, said: ‘We recognise it’s restraint, we recognise it’s a serious case and therefore that’s why we did an investigation into it. It’s simply that when we reported on the figures one of the sub categories is deaths in custody and Simon Boswell didn’t appear in there, but appeared in the overall figures for that year.’.....read more