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We investigate all deaths that occur in prison, probation approved premises or immigration removal centres, whatever the cause of death. Additionally, the Ombudsman may decide to investigate a death that occurs after release from prison or removal centre, where the care and service provided might be an issue. The types of death we can investigate are set out in full in our Terms of Reference. A summary of the types of deaths we can investigate is also given here.
You don’t have to. We are automatically informed every time a death in custody occurs.
The investigator finds out as much as possible about what was happening to the person before their death. This includes examining all the relevant records and policies, together with interviews with relevant staff and prisoners or residents if required. We also commission an independent clinical review of the healthcare given to the person before their death.
A family liaison officer will be assigned to the the bereaved family and will contact you within four weeks of the death, or after the funeral, whichever is the sooner. The family liaison officer's job is to enable you to be involved in the investigation, to answer your questions and keep you informed of progress.
After the investigation is completed, a report is produced that outlines our findings. It may also recommend changes to improve the quality of care given in the future. After the inquest into the death, an anonymised version of the report will be published in the fatal incident reports section of this website.
If our family liaison officer has been in touch with you during our investigation, you will receive an initial version of the report at the end of the investigation so you can comment on the factual accuracy. Your comments will be considered and fed into our final report if appropriate. We will send you a copy of the final report and will tell you where and why any changes have been made.
We can only accept complaints from the person directly affected by the complaint (although the Ombudsman has discretion to accept complaints from third parties on behalf of individuals who are unable to act on their own behalf).