The British Government effectively signed up to the European Commission on Human Rights by bringing this into British Law in 2000 through the Human Rights Act 1998.

Article 2 covers the Right to Life and states that there should be an independent and effective investigation into all deaths caused by the State (through use of force or failure to protect life).  Article 2 also states that the investigation should be reasonably prompt, open to public scrutiny and involve the next of kin of the deceased.

As part of the process that ensures that the State meets its obligations the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (who is independent) investigates the deaths of any prisoners or detainees in the custody of:

  • Prisons
  • Young Offenders Institutions
  • Secure Training Centres
  • Immigration Removal Centres
  • Probation Approved Premises
  • Court cells (when the person has been remanded or sentenced)

The Ombudsman can also investigate the death of someone who has recently been released from the custody of the above establishments if he feels there is particular lessons to be learned.

The Ombudsman and his team of fatal incidents investigators are committed to making a difference and ensuring lessons are learned from deaths in custody.  The investigation ensures that any issues around the care the deceased person received in custody are raised and importantly that any lessons to be learned are highlighted and shared.