Police watchdog to review its handling of deaths in custody

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The way deaths in police custody are investigated is to be reviewed to improve public confidence in the system, it was announced yesterday.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it would be looking into its "powers, resources and approach" when examining cases in which a member of the public dies during or after contact with the police.

Earlier this week it was revealed by The Independent and the BBC that official figures on how many people had died in police custody may have been understated, following a series of Freedom of Information requests in recent months by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The 16 restraint-related deaths identified by the IPCC do not include eight other cases, which occurred when either the person had not been detained or the causes of death were unclear, as these had been recorded separately.

Jane Furniss, chief executive of the IPCC, said a separate review into how these figures are recorded will be carried out by the National Statistician, Jill Matheson, and would result in a report on how to improve procedures.