Letter: Met must change

Sir: The Police Complaints Authority has only itself to blame for the fact that relatives of those who have died in police custody feel its conference is yet another arena that excludes them ("Custody deaths forum `biased'", 30 September). The PCA is aware that the families that Inquest has supported over the last 17 years have felt continually frustrated about their marginalisation from the inquest process.

We had been encouraged in recent years that the PCA had taken up the need for prior disclosure of evidence to families and the need for improvements to the care of vulnerable detainees. In holding this conference they have finally recognised the need for attention to be focused on this very serious issue. But they have missed an opportunity to begin the process of dialogue with those who have brought the issue into the public arena, hearing instead from professionals involved or associated with the police.

The PCA presides over a discredited investigation process following custody deaths whereby the police investigate themselves and will not pass on information to families about where they can obtain legal advice and support after a death for fear of compromising their impartiality. They have now organised a conference where they will all talk to themselves. How can the public and the families have any confidence in their independence when they utterly fail to understand the significance of organising a conference seeking to "reduce the risks" of custody deaths which is so one-sided?



Co-Directors, Inquest

London N4