Letter: Deaths in custody

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Peter Moorhouse (letters, 10 May) claims the Police Complaints Authority has tried to reach out to ethnic minorities, giving the example of the deaths-in-custody conference held in October 1998. His comments are disingenuous.

Why is it that when we met him prior to the conference no thought had been given to inviting the families of those who have died, or Inquest, to address that conference? It was only after the families organised a picket that Brenda Weinberg, sister of Brian Douglas, was given the chance to speak.

The conference had absolutely nothing to say about the most serious concerns we and the black families we work with have raised, namely the disproportionate number of black people who have died following the use of force by the police. Instead it focused almost exclusively on self-inflicted deaths in custody.

In addition, Peter Moorhouse was a belated convert (PCA Annual Report 1995/96) to pre-inquest disclosure, for which Inquest had campaigned for almost twenty years. It was not Peter Moorhouse who put the issue on the political agenda and neither was it the PCA who met government ministers to convince them of the injustice in not giving families information before inquests.

HELEN SHAW

DEBORAH COLES

Co-Directors

Inquest

London N4

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