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UK to investigate rising number of deaths in police custody

LONDON (AP) — A rising number of deaths in UK custody risks undermining public confidence in the police, Britain’s interior minister said Thursday, announcing an independent review into fatalities and other cases.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said 17 people died in or after police detention in the year ending March 31, six more than in 2013-14. That’s the highest number in five years, though lower than figures for a decade ago.

Another 69 people killed themselves within two days of leaving police custody — a figure that’s also rising.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the deaths could destroy the “unwritten contract” between citizens and police. She said when the families of the dead tried to find out what happened, “all too often the system doesn’t work the way we would expect.”

The inquiry will look at issues including mental health care, the use of restraints and the treatment of victims’ families.

The 17 people who died in custody included 14 men and three women. Fifteen were white, one black and one Asian, the complaints commission said.

British police also fatally shot one person in 2014-15, the first such death in three years. Most British police don’t carry firearms.

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