INQUEST’s monitoring has revealed that a disproportionate number of Black people and those from minority ethnic communities have died as a result of excessive force, restraint or serious medical neglect. We believe this is indicative of institutional racism in the criminal justice system.
Black deaths in custody must be seen in the context of the disproportionate overuse of prison for black people, the plight of immigration detainees, the treatment they receive and the overuse of control and restraint techniques and segregation. While the number of restraint related deaths are a small minority of the total numbers of deaths they have been the most controversial because of what they have revealed about the excessive use of force by functionaries of the state.
INQUEST’s casework and monitoring has found that more than 400 people from BAME communities have died in prison, police custody and secure training centres since 1990. In 2007 alone BAME deaths made up 25% of self-inflicted deaths, and 19% of all deaths in prison.
INQUEST has been involved in supporting the families in a high number of cases of black deaths in custody such as the restraint-related deaths of Roger Sylvester and Rocky Bennett and are continuing to closely monitor such deaths.