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Deaths in police custody

  1. Burke, T. and Reynolds, J. 1994, 'Police Custody Death Syndrome', Law Enforcement Technology, July, pp. 63-64.

    This article looks at two cases of men who died in police custody after being forcibly subdued and restrained by having their wrists and ankles bound together behind their backs and placed in a prone position ('hog-tied'). The article recommends the training of police officers particularly so that they are more able to identify potential dangers when restraining suspects. It recommends that hog-tying and the placing of suspects in a prone position particularly while being transported be banned.

  2. Carrington, K. 1991, 'The Death of Mark Quayle: Normalising Racial Horror in Country Towns and Hospitals', in Journal for Social Justice Studies, Special Issue Series, Volume 4: Politics, Prisons and Punishment - Royal Commissions and 'Reforms', eds Carrington, K. and Morris, B., pp. 161-87.

    The article discusses the events leading up to the death of Mark Quayle in police custody and the inquiry surrounding his death. Her concern is not necessarily the conduct of those seen as largely responsible for the death, but with the fact that such conduct is normal and appears to the widespread in the State of New South Wales. Her concern is with analysing how daily encounters of horror are normalised as an everyday feature of hospital routine and cultural life in some towns and how the local Aboriginal population are made subject to that culture of terror.

  3. Day, T. 1992, 'Prisoners in Custody', NSW Police News, November.

    Stop blaming the police for deaths in police cells/custody. Police don't plan or build the cells, don't write or pass the statutes that cause people to be put behind bars and don't have the resources to allow a person in custody to be observed 24 hours a day. Complete modifications to cells are not going to stop an unstable person, hell bent on suicide, from attempting to take their own life. Stop making false accusations about the police hanging persons in custody.

  4. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. 1980, Third Report from the Home Affairs Committee, Session 1979-80: Deaths in Police Custody, (16 June), The House of Commons, London.

    This is the third report from the Home Affairs Committee on deaths in police custody. The report gives statistics for the years 1970 to 1979 inclusive. It discusses the care of persons in custody and the procedure for the holding of inquests, as well as investigation of complaints against the police.

  5. Hand, D. W. 1996, Report by the NSW State Coroner into Deaths in Custody/Police Operations, 1995, (January), State Coroner's Office, NSW Attorney General's Department, Sydney.

    The report from the NSW State Coroner covers deaths in custody and police operations for 1995. A total of 82 cases were subject to investigation by the State Coroner and the Deputy State Coroners and are referred to in the report. Summaries of individual cases completed in 1995 are included. Appendix 1 includes a summary of inquests heard of terminated in 1995. Appendix 2 outlines the status of inquiries into deaths in custody/police operations investigated in 1995 and yet to be completed.

  6. Johnson, H.R.M. 1982, 'Deaths in Police Custody in England and Wales', Forensic Science International, vol. 19, pp. 231-6.

    Worldwide deaths in police custody are causing public disquiet. An account is given of all the deaths occurring in police custody in England and Wales over a ten-year period from 1970-1979 with details of the causes of death and inquest verdicts.

  7. Kennedy, D. B. 1984, 'A Theory of Suicide While in Police Custody', Journal of Police Science and Administration, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 191-99.

    While there is evidence that inmates of long term penal institutions such as prisons are at a disproportionate risk of suicide when compared to the general population, the problems seems to be much more acute among inmates of local lockups and county jails. The purpose of the research to be reported here is threefold: 1) To delineate more clearly the issues pertinent to custodial suicides; 2) To examine recent Michigan experience in light of selected problem areas; and 3) To attempt to formulate a theoretical direction for future research.

  8. McDonald, D. 1996, 'Deaths in Police Custody', in Australian Policing: Contemporary Issues, eds Chappell, D. and Wilson, P., Butterworths, Sydney, pp. 165-179.

    Little has been done in the area of deaths in police custody in countries other than Australia. This article looks at the high profile of the topic in Australia and the demands of Aboriginal people that led to the Royal Commission. It discusses the categorisation of deaths in police custody, the causes and the patterns and trends that have emerged over the last 15 years. The dramatic reduction in the number of deaths in police lockups since the Royal Commission is noted. The task in front is to eliminate the preventable deaths which occur in police custody. Forty three of the Royal Commission's 43 recommendations related to health and safety issues in police custody. The paper discusses the reporting and accountability mechanisms in place which were designed to ensure that the recommendations are implemented and that the desired outcomes are achieved.

  9. Moroney, N. 1993, Deaths in Police Custody in New South Wales - 1980 to Present, for Public Seminar on Deaths in Custody, (29 September), by The Institute of Criminology, The University of Sydney, at the State Library, NSW.

    This paper was presented by Norm Moroney, Assistant Commissioner, NSW Police Service. It provides statistics on persons who have died in police custody in New South Wales from 1980 through to the present, detailing information on causes and Aboriginality of deaths both in cells and outside of cell custody. The paper also addresses the relevant issue of 'safety in custody' and notes that in Australia, and particularly in New South Wales, prisoner management, welfare and safety have become high priority issues as a direct result of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In February 1988 a Task Force was established by the Commissioner of Police to assess the suicide resistance of police cells and develop screening methods for persons coming into police custody. This paper discusses the recommendations from that review addressing the issues of cell design and construction, custody management and the Services 1993-96 Corporate Plan. Address to a Public Seminar Convened by the Institute of Criminology, The University of Sydney, on 29 September 1993.

  10. Pehm, K. 1993, Deaths and Self-Injury in Custody, for Public Seminar on Deaths in Custody, (29 September), Institute of Criminology, The University of Sydney, at the State Library, NSW.

    This paper was presented by Kieran Pehm, Assistant Ombudsman (Police). It highlights the issues of death and self-injury in police and it comments on observations made of the cases of deaths and self-injury in police custody reported to the Ombudsman's Office. The paper focuses on the effects of arrest and the trauma associated with arrest which may lead to death or self-injury in police custody. It notes that the lower the rate of arrest and incarceration, then the less potential for death and self injury in custody. The procedure of arrest and screening methods which may assist police in ascertaining suicide potential is discussed. Other issues are cell modifications that can be effective in detecting and preventing suicide attempts, and discussion of police perceptions of those that may attempt suicide. Address to a Public Seminar Convened by the Institute of Criminology, The University of Sydney, on 29 September 1993.

  11. Sarvesvaran, R. 1988, 'Death in Police Custody', The Police Surgeon, vol. 34, November, pp. 26- 31.

    When a member of the public dies in police custody there is always concern and the media lose no time in publicising it. It is commonly assumed that such deaths occur either in the police station or within the confines of a police cell. This is not always so, indeed the broader concept of death in police custody covers its occurrence from the moment a person is either detained by a policeman or 'volunteers' to accompany him to the police station and includes those helping police with their enquiries until their release. Sarvesvaran details six cases he had to perform post mortem examinations on during the period 1.7.82 to 30.6.87 and police action in each case. He concludes that persons who die in police custody are, for the most part, people at risk, alcoholics, drug addicts and vagrants and that all persons arrested following a struggle, or thought to be inebriated due to alcohol and/or drugs, should be taken directly to a hospital. Only if released from hospital should they be taken to the police station for further enquiries. If observation centres cannot be constructed because of cost, civilianised medically trained para-medical personnel should be employed in police stations to care for these persons brought into custody. As a result of this, not only would lives be saved, but also unfair criticism against the police could be avoided.

  12. Segest, Erling. 1987, 'Police Custody: Deaths and Medical Attention', Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 32, no. 6, November, pp. 1694-1703.

    Information was obtained from all the county constabularies regarding deaths and medical attention given to those in police custody. It was presumed that this information covered all deaths in custody in Denmark during the period 1981 through 1985. There is no apparent increase in the absolute number of deaths during detention during the period 1969 through 1985. The number of deaths occurring in custody in relation to the annual number of persons incarcerated has fallen during the period 1955 through 1985. Simultaneously, a marked rise has occurred in the number of persons held in police custody. During the period 1981 through 1985, 7.9 persons were incarcerated per 1000 population per year. One homicide and nineteen other deaths occurred. The most frequent cause of death was asphyxiation as a result of aspiration of gastric contents during alcohol intoxication, drug poisoning, and intracranial haemorrhage. A physician had been consulted but had not diagnosed the seriousness of the condition in 42% of the deaths. All the deceased were men, and all suffered from the effects of social, psychiatric, and physical diseases. The lethality evaluated from hospitalised clients with the same type of life-threatening conditions was found to be 25%. A discussion is presented of the costs which will be incurred if a large group of those kept in police custody were admitted to hospital. Similarly, changes in the present arrangements are suggested that could ensure a greater certainty of avoiding deaths in detention.

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