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View From 'The Voice': Deaths in custody

RAGE: Makeshift road blocks in fire at a protest in Kingsland Road in east London, where people gathered last week in response to the death of Rashan Charles

THE RECENT deaths of three young black men after contact with police in the space of two months has brought into sharp focus the wide division which still exist between the police and the community as it relates to incidents like these.

The anger on the streets of Dalston in east London last Friday was a direct response to the death of 20-year-old Rashan Charles a week before which was captured on CCTV when he was being restrained by police after he ran into a convenience store.

Similar anger met the deaths of 32-year-old Darren Cumberbatch who was reportedly Tasered nine times during contact with the police at the hostel he was staying at and 25-year-old Edir 'Edson' Frederico Da Costa who also died after contact with the police.

These cases have raised demands for the long awaited report into deaths in police custody, ordered in 2015 by then home secretary Theresa May, to be published.

There are too many families like those of Darren Cumberbatch and Rashan Charles for whom the criminal justice system has made it too hard to find out what happened to their loved ones. This was what the independent review was supposed to address.

Mrs May ordered the report because she felt there needed to be transparency on an issue that has strained an already difficult relationship between the black community and the police. It is well overdue and now campaigners are accusing current Home Secretary Amber Rudd of sitting on it.

A coalition of campaign groups and MPs, including Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, are publicly questioning whether or not the delay is because the Government has something to hide.

By not releasing this report the government, ironically now led by May, we risk more people losing confidence in the criminal justice system as no police officer has ever been brought to book over a death in custody or contact with the public.

Many of these deaths might have been preventable if there were stronger deterrents in place.

The Voice joins the many voices from the community in calling for the quick publication of the promised deaths in custody report.

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