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INQUEST response to College of Policing guidelines on use of police restraint in healthcare settings
Today the College of Policing issued national guidelines for police and health care professionals on when the police can be asked to attend healthcare settings and the use of restraint in such settings.
The guidelines can be found here.
Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST gave the following response:
"The majority of police related deaths over the last 5 years have involved dangerous restraint of men in mental health crisis. This guidance is welcome reiteration of the life threatening dangers of the application of police restraint to someone with mental ill health: dangers which have been known to those involved in policing and healthcare for many years.
It has long been acknowledged that police involvement in healthcare settings should be absolutely the last resort, but the reality in practice has been very different. Anyone in crisis requires a healthcare and not a criminal justice response.There is a crying need for leadership and oversight to change police and healthcare practice and prevent the use of police force and presence in healthcare settings.
The fatal consequences of such practice will be examined at the forthcoming inquest into the restraint related death of Olaseni Lewis beginning on 6 February at Croydon Coroner's Court".
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah