Coroner Service

Support with deaths in custody

Support is available, for those affected by a death in custody, from the charity INQUEST.

INQUEST provides expertise on state-related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians.

Its specialist casework includes deaths:

  • in police and prison custody
  • in immigration detention
  • in mental health settings
  • involving multi-agency failings or where wider issues of state and corporate accountability are in question

Visit INQUEST's website to find out how it can help.

What a death in custody is

When a death happened in prison, police custody or other state detention, there must be an inquest. Other state detention can include being held under the Mental Health Act 1983.

In cases where the state or public body might have had obligations relating to the circumstances around a death, including where a person has died in police custody or in prison, the inquest may become what is known as an ‘Article 2’ inquest.

This refers to the state’s obligations to protect life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The inquest process is likely to look and feel the same as other inquests, but the coroner or jury will be required to investigate more widely into some of the factual circumstances of the death.