Four people died during or soon after police contact in Suffolk last year
PUBLISHED: 12:38 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 27 October 2020
Four people died during or soon after contact with Suffolk police last year - the highest number of deaths since 2015/16.
In the three years prior to this there were a total of four deaths, figures show.
The deaths in 2019/20 included two apparent suicides following custody (the first since 2016/17), a death due to a medical episode at a police station, and a fourth death still subject to an investigation.
All forces are required by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to refer any deaths where direct or indirect contact could have been a factor.
The IOPC will consider all referrals and decide whether or not to investigate the death.
An investigation into the death of a man due to a medical episode at Bury St Edmunds station last November concluded officers had acted correctly during contact.
Each year, the IOPC reports traffic fatalities involving police, shootings, deaths in or following custody, apparent suicides following custody, and other deaths following police contact and subject to investigation.
Deaths in or following police custody include people detained under the Mental Health Act, while apparent suicides include deaths within two days of release, or where the time spent in custody may be relevant to the death.
Independent investigation are carried out on incidents that cause the greatest level of public concern, including deaths after police are called to attend a domestic incident, while a person is attempting to avoid arrest, siege situations, where there are concerns about the nature of the response to concerns for welfare, and where the police are called to help medical staff restrain someone not under arrest.
Nationally, in the 12 months ending March this year, there were 18 deaths in or following custody, 54 apparent suicides and 107 other deaths that were independently investigated.
A police spokesman said: “Staff are trained and supported by a range of health care professionals in conducting risk assessments, and also offer support for individuals in custody. However, many will have varying health issues. Tragically, someone may die, sometimes many weeks or months after they have been released. If certain mandatory criteria are met, then these cases are referred to the IOPC to decide if any further investigation is required into the circumstances.”
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