BMH UK’s response to Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the IPCC

Friday, 01 February 2013

Date: Friday 1 February 2013

BMH UK welcome today's publication of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report into its inquiry into the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). This report spotlights the consistent failures by the watchdog in investigating serious cases like deaths in custody, which have involved disproportionate numbers of mental health service users from the UK's African Caribbean communities.

This report confirms the widely held view that the IPCC has become a second home for police officers, and has called for a reduction of the numbers of officers investigating cases from 33% to 20%.

This document also flags up ongoing concerns over racism within the police and the IPCC recognising that police abuses particularly affect ethnic minorities.

Written evidence submitted by Black Mental Health UK's (BMH UK) director Matilda MacAttram, during this inquiry raised concerns over the treatment of mental health service users from the community who come in contact with the police.

Today's report shows that half of those who died in or shortly after leaving police custody in 2011-12 were identified as having mental health problems. Also black men were over represented among these fatalities with 38% of those who died in police custody in 2011 were from ethnic minority communities.

Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said: 'BMH UK welcomes the fact that this report has put a spotlight on the abuses of vulnerable mental health service users at the hands of the police.

We also support the calls that have been made to address the racism within the IPCC and the need to apply non discriminatory practices given the disproportunate number of cases involving ethnic minorites, particlarly in relation to deaths in custody.'

'However the HASC's recommendation of having 20% of investigators with a police background working at the commission will mean that the culture and values that currently undermine public confidence in this watchdog will continue to dominate this institution.

A suggestion in the change of the name of this police watchdog will give a perception of change but there need to be many more assurances if public confidence is is ever to be regained'.

BMH UK's evidence to this inquiry highlighted several issues arising from the campaign group's work including:

• Mental health and policing

• Prone restraint

• IPCC complaints procedure

• Deaths in custody


Notes to the editor

- Black Mental Health UK is a human rights campaigns group established to address the over representation of African Caribbean's within secure psychiatric care and raise awareness to address the stigma associated with mental health.

- Detention rates for people from the UK's African Caribbean community is now up to 13 higher than that of their white counterparts.

- People from the UK's African Caribbean communities do not have higher rates of mental ill health than any other ethnic group .

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