Hold police to account over deaths – demand relatives to IPCC report

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RELATIVES of people who died in police custody yesterday insisted that reforms pledged by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) be implemented without delay and for police to be prosecuted.

Following a review launched in Autumn 2012, the IPCC yesterday publishes its report into the way it investigates deaths, signalling changes in approach and procedure, including ensuring the effective engagement of families.

The legal charity INQUEST established nearly ten years ago, has worked alongside hundreds of bereaved families and their lawyers as the IPCC conducted investigations following deaths involving the police.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said: ‘This report is welcome acknowledgement that time and again bereaved families have been failed by the IPCC.

‘The absence of a robust police watchdog has allowed corruption and dangerous practices to go unchecked.’

She added: ‘This is a pivotal moment for the IPCC and they must make this happen to match these reasonable expectations. Whether they can remains to be seen.’

Ajibola Lewis is the mother of Seni Lewis who died following police restraint in a mental health hospital in 2010.

She said: ‘The original IPCC investigation into the death of our son Seni had to be torn up last summer as it was not fit for purpose, and we were promised that the new investigation would be everything that the first was not: prompt, effective and rigorous.

‘Over six months later, we have seen little sign of those words being put into action, and over three and a half years since Seni died we are no closer to finding out the truth of what happened.’

She added that the IPCC recommendations ‘must now be implemented: we’ve heard the rhetoric, now we want to see the action. No other family should have to go through what we have been through.’

Marcia Rigg is the sister of Sean Rigg who died in police custody in Brixton in 2008. Evidence and the jury verdict at the inquest into his death was in sharp contrast to the findings of the IPCC investigation.

She said: ‘The damning verdict at the inquest into our brother Sean’s death highlighted the extreme inadequacies of the original IPCC investigation.

‘We hope that all the recommendations are implemented without delay, and that as well as helping us the review will help other families and lead to effective change in the way deaths in police custody are investigated.’

Sheila Sylvester, whose son Roger Sylvester died after being restrained by police in January 1999, was less confident.

She told News Line yesterday: ‘Roger shouldn’t have died the way he did. The IPCC report is not surprising, we know the police have been corrupt for a long time. Even in our case there were discrepancies. We think our phone was bugged.

‘The police should be held to account, they should be prosecuted. The IPCC should be reformed, they should even abandon it, it’s not done any good for anyone.’