The second funeral for two female police officers shot and killed in the line of duty last month is taking place this morning in my city (Manchester, UK). It has been a shock to the nation, and the residents of the city are lining the streets to pay their respects.
The whole situation is desperately sad. It makes you think not only of the loss of PCs Hughes and Bone, but of the 71 police officers shot and killed in the line of duty since 1900.
However, I encourage you also to think of the hundreds of civilians who have died in police custody during this time. The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody report published in 2011 found that, in total, there were 5,998 deaths recorded for the 11 years from 2000 to 2010. Despite the fact there have been 11 unlawful killing verdicts since 1990 there has never been a successful prosecution, and there is no grand funeral for the victims.
Comparing these figures, on average 545 people die in custody every year compared to 1 police officer shot and killed every two years.
Approximately half of all deaths in or following police custody involve detainees with some form of mental health problem. These are people who need medical attention: not unsafe and ultimately fatal treatment.
Please take the time if you can to sign this petition for an independent judicial inquiry into all suspicious deaths in custody.
Edit: Someone’s already complained about this post, claiming that “It’s not exactly comparing like for like” (quite what they’re driving at I’m not sure, but I have a feeling it comes down to the ‘goodie vs baddie’ dichotomy we’re all raised with). My point was that it’s national news and hundreds line the streets when two police officers are shot: where’s the similar outpouring of emotion for the 545 people who die in custody (approximately 33 in police custody) every year? When the circumstances of death are deemed ‘suspicious’, why is nobody prosecuted? Despite a broad consensus that police custody should be used only in exceptional cases for the mentally ill, why are twice as many people detained in police custody under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act than in a hospital environment? The UK media has been repeating the sentiment of how we all need to recognize and respect how dangerous it is to be a police officer nowadays. I’d actually contest that it’s more dangerous to be mentally ill (and/or POC).
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