Runnymede Trust: Open Letter to Amber Rudd on Deaths in Prison Report

Dr Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust, Martha Spurrier of Liberty, Kate Paradine of Women in Prison and others published this open letter in the Guardian in July 2017.

The inquest into Sarah Reed’s death begins on Tuesday. She was found dead in her cell in Holloway prison in London in January 2016 and her relatives will be expecting answers on the level of care she received and her wider treatment by public authorities. In 2012 Sarah was the victim of an assault by a police officer, an experience which aggravated her mental health issues.

The government has accepted that deaths in custody need further scrutiny. Two years ago Theresa May, as home secretary, commissioned an independent review on police custody deaths, including investigating racial disproportionality. The review’s report was due for publication over a year ago.

Until last week the government website on this independent review stated the report will be published “in the summer of 2016.” The continued and unexplained delays suggest the government is holding back on publishing the report.

We therefore call on home secretary Amber Rudd to immediately release the report of the independent review into deaths in police custody.

Families have been calling for transparency and justice on deaths in custody for decades. By releasing the report of the independent review the government can begin to convince bereaved families that it is committed to transparency and justice for the families affected by deaths in custody.

Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust
Martha Spurrie,r Director, Liberty
Daniel Machover, Chair, Inquest
Kate Paradine, CEO, Women in Prison
Sarah Hughes, CEO, Centre for Mental Health
Sam Gurney, Head of equality and strategy, Trades Union Congress
Sarah Green, Co-Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition
Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind
Professor Darrick Jolliffe, Former research adviser to the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody
Leroy Logan, Former chief superintendent (retired)
Duwayne Brooks, Stop-and-search consultant
Frances Crook, CEO, Howard League for Penal Reform
Siana Bangura, Freelance journalist
Donald Peter Herbert, Former Metropolitan Police Authority member
Ilyas Nagdee, Black Students’ Officer, National Union of Students
Lord Herman Ouseley, Independent crossbench, House of Lords
Mark Serwotka, General secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union
Zita Holbourne, National chair, Barac UK
Jerome Phelps, Director, Detention Action
Jon Robins, The Justice Gap
Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive director, The Equality Trust
Andy Gregg, CEO, Race on the Agenda
Lee Jasper, Former adviser on policing in London
Ken Fero, Migrant Media
Louise King, Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote
Yvonne MacNamara, Chief executive, the Traveller Movement
Zoe Matthews, Co-director, Friends Families and Travellers
Lisa Matthews, Coordinator, Right to Remain
Alan Anstead ,Coordinator, UK Race and Europe Network
Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London
Patrick Vernon, Social commentator, film-maker and publisher
Professor Robbie Shilliam, Professor in international relations
Sado Jirde, Director, Black South West Network
Nadeem Murtuji, Chair, Just Yorkshire
Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
Patricia Lamour, Aspire Education Group

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said:

‘Too many people die in custody and too many deaths in custody are preventable. Without proper systems in place to learn the lessons of these wasted lives the state is failing to honour their memory, listen to their families and make custody a safer place.’

Read the Guardian’s coverage.