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11 people die after contact with Thames Valley Police in one year; Figures show three people committed suicide after being contacted by police.

Byline: Hugh Fort

New figures show 11 people died after being involved in police action, including three who apparently took their own lives.

The new figures from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) show three people are believed to have committed suicide after being released fromThames Valley Policecustody.

The remaining eight incidents included deaths after police were called to domestic incidents, as well as the deaths of people resisting arrest and when officers were called by medical staff to deal with people not under arrest.

The figure for 2018/19 is the same number as the previous year.

The force coversSlough,Windsor,Wokingham,Bracknell,Newbury,Maidenhead andReading, Berkshire.

An inquest was held in Reading earlier this year which revealed the failings of police tasked with looking after Leroy Medford, who died in custody afterswallowing a package of drugsin April 2017.

Thames Valley Police rated 'inadequate' as inspectors say they're failing victims

Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest, which supports the families of people who have died after contact with police, said: "The Angiolini review [into deaths and serious incidents in police custody] made pragmatic recommendations to ensure safer responses to people with mental ill health and addictions.

"Two years on, the government reports little progress in these areas.

"The fact that the majority of recent deaths relate to these vulnerabilities shows the cost of such failures, and the importance of a public health-focused response.

"At a time when all political parties arepromising additional police on the streets, our ongoing casework shows that more police numbers are not the answer to public safety.

"Ultimately to prevent further deaths and harm, we must look beyond policing and redirect resources into community, health, welfare and specialist services. "

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Across England and Wales there were 276 deaths, down from 288 the year before.

There was a rise in the number of people killed in crashes involving police.

The 42 recorded is the highest in a decade and includes motorists, cyclists and pedestrians killed using police pursuits and police vehicles responding to emergency calls.

Investigation launched into ambulance staff after death of Reading dad hit by police car

Three people were fatally shot by police and 16 died after spending time in police custody.

Michael Lockwood, director general of the IOPC, said: "These deaths have a tragic and lifelong impact on the family and friends of those who have died, and the police officers who are involved.

"It is of critical importance that we analyse the circumstances of each and identify if there are lessons to be learnt in the hope we can prevent future deaths from occurring.

"It is of concern that again, there is a high proportion of people dying during and immediately after custody who are vulnerable through mental health and links to drugs and alcohol.

"While this is perhaps unsurprising against a backdrop of rising numbers of drug deaths in wider society and pressures on mental health services, the fact that this continues to be a major factor every year highlights the reliance on police as first-responders."

Police failings contributed to death of Reading man in custody, inquest rules

Police officer on 999 call involved in fatal crash which killed two elderly women in Calcot


New figures show the number of deaths of people who are involved with the police
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Publication:Get Reading (Reading, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2019
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