11 September 2018
A grieving father whose son died after being restrained has issued a heartfelt plea for changes in how deaths in custody are dealt with.
Tony Herbert’s son, James, sadly died in 2010 whilst in police custody in Avon and Somerset. Police were called after James, 25, was spotted running and shouting down a road in Wells, Somerset, looking “dishevelled” during a mental health crisis.
The circumstances surrounding James’ death have since been subject to two IPCC investigations and an inquest.
Speaking at the Police Federation of England and Wales’ Custody Seminar in Daventry today (11 September) Mr Herbert said that changes had been made since his son’s death. However, he failed to understand how deaths in custody occurred at all. “If these deaths are avoidable then the only acceptable number is zero”, he said.
Mr Herbert outlined his personal “utopia” for how deaths in custody would be dealt with, including the Crown Prosecution Service being involved much later, with officers involved obligated to fully report to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) within six months of the death.
In September 2017 the then Independent Police Complaints Commissioned (now IOPC) published a report into James’ death, which pinpointed how a different approach to policing people with mental health needs could have prevented James’ death in custody. Read the full report.