Press Release: Independent Police Conduct Authority
Deaths in Police custody – lessons from a ten-year review
Improvements in Police policies and practices have been reflected in better care of people in Police custody, as measured by the incidence of deaths of detainees studied in an independent review.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has released a review of 27 deaths which occurred in Police custody The review covered the ten years between 2000 and 2010 and was prompted by several deaths of heavily intoxicated detainees. It was also conducted in light of the Authority’s responsibilities under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
The Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said deaths in custody are uncommon and do not necessarily reflect the quality of care generally provided by the Police.
“While it is rare in New Zealand for people to die while in Police custody, such deaths can be controversial. There may be issues around the use of force by Police during an arrest, or with the standard of care Police provide to a detainee. When a person dies while he or she is in custody, it has a serious impact on both their family and the Police officers involved. Public confidence in the Police may also be affected. While not all deaths in custody are foreseeable or preventable, in some cases the actions or omissions of Police staff may be a contributing factor,” Judge Carruthers said.