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Police Custody: Death

Home Office written question – answered on 2nd November 2017.

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Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to introduce bereavement counselling for families where there has been a death in police custody in cases where families are not entitled to support from the National Homicide Service.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department

Families bereaved by murder or manslaughter are entitled to the support of the Ministry of Justice funded Homicide Service. This offers practical and emotional support, and where needed, will refer bereaved individuals to free of charge specialist therapy (trauma and bereavement counselling) provision.

Where a death takes place in a mental health setting, including following an arrest by the police, the National Guidance on Learning from Deaths (2017) provides guidance for NHS Trusts about engaging meaningfully and compassionately with bereaved families and carers in relation to all stages of responding to a death. Bereaved families and carers should receive a high standard of bereavement care which respects confidentiality, values, culture and beliefs, including being offered appropriate support. This includes providing, offering or directing people to specialist suicide bereavement support.

In other cases where this support does not apply, the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody will consider these as part of its “support for families” workstream. This forms a part of the broader work programme announced by the Government in response to Dame Elish Angiolini’s Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody.

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