- Reform of the inquest system
- Deaths in custody
The creation of a new three-tier Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody was announced by the Ministry of Justice in July 2008 , following publication of the Fulton Review and replaces the Ministerial Roundtable on Suicide and the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody . It is jointly funded by the Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and the Home Office.
The first-tier consists of a Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody, which has replaced the Roundtable and has wider terms of reference to include all types of death in state custody (prison; approved premises; police; revenue and customs; immigration; psychiatric hospitals) . INQUEST is an independent member of the Board and at its first meeting held in June raised its concerns about the ongoing problems faced by families both in delays to inquests being held and in obtaining public fundingPublic means-tested financial assistance for representation during legal proceedings. It is not available for representation at most inquests. The Lord ChancellorThe cabinet minister in the government responsible for the effective running of the legal system in England and Wales. can grant it in exceptional cases. for their legal representation.
The second tier of the Council is the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) whose role is to provide independent advice and expertise to the Board. The IAP is supported by a broadly-based group representing practitioners and stakeholders formed on an ad hoc basis . The six members of the IAP includes Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST.
INQUEST facilitated a family listening day in March 2010 when 16 family members with direct experience of the investigation and inquest system following the death of a relative whilst in the care of the state to met the Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) on Deaths in Custody and representatives of its secretariat. The report of the listening day was published in August 2010.
INQUEST has long campaigned for a properly resourced, independent Standing Commission on Custodial Deaths and will be closely monitoring the new structure and its impact.