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Met chief tries to reassure families over deaths in custody

CHECKS: Bernard Hogan-Howe

NEW METROPOLITAN Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has sought to reassure families that the police are doing more to reduce the number of deaths in custody.

At a media briefing on November 11, Hogan-Howe said: “We take deaths in custody seriously, or even a death in police contact seriously. However, there is a very small number of deaths in custody, but I do accept that for a family this is someone they've lost."

“People may not be reassured by that but the Independent Police Complaints Commission will investigate every death in police contact, even if that doesn’t mean police custody, and that investigation is very thorough.”


PROTEST: Kingsley Burrell's sister Kadisha holds a banner along with Kingsley's daughter Trivita (second from right) and niece Charnelle at a demonstration earlier this year.

Hogan-Howe said he understood why people remain suspicious, but insisted that the police do have general overseers who check on people’s welfare and are not employed by the police. He said they volunteer and without notice go around and check on the welfare of people.

“All our custody suites now have CCTV throughout. We also have the right monitoring equipment if someone is having difficulty breathing.”

He said that the police should “be totally professional in the process of arresting, and the criminal should be arrested in a professional way.”

But Kadisha Brown-Burrell, whose brother Kingsley Burrell died following police contact earlier this year, told The Voice she was not convinced, especially as officers at the centre of such cases were often allowed to remain working during investigations.

“Police officers involved in a death in custody should be suspended, so that the family doesn’t lose faith in the criminal justice system."

“If the officers involved are not suspended they should at least be up for misconduct. This will assure the family that something is being done. Otherwise the officer will think that they can get away with it.”

Hogan-Howe did not comment when asked whether police should be suspended when connected to deaths in custody.

The Met chief spoke of bringing criminals to justice to ensure that a fear of police and breaking the law is instilled in the criminals. He revealed that the Met have a plan to arrest more street-level drug dealers.

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