More than 200 people died after contact with Police Scotland

Author: Karin Goodwin in The Ferret

More than 200 people have died either in police custody or following contact by Police Scotland since the nationwide force was formed in 2013, The Ferret has found.

The figures, obtained under freedom of information legislation, reveal 35 people died while in police custody, including three women and 171 died after having contact with the police – a total of 206 people.

The numbers were from January 2013 until December 2022 and have been increasing over the last decade.

Campaigners said deaths in custody were “shrouded in secrecy”. They claimed the newly obtained figures highlighted the need for proper transparency and scrutiny, not only so police were held to account but also so lessons could be learned.

Police Scotland said it exercised its “duty of care in all public interactions” and strived to improve its service to communities across the country.

Many of those who died were still young. At least seven people who died were under 30. Some were intoxicated or suffering from mental health crises, according to Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAI) reports analysed by The Ferret. We found several of those who died did not receive medical care despite this.

The names and ages of those who died are included in The Ferret report. These included that of a 33-year-old Ethiopian asylum seeker who jumped into the River Clyde and drowned after being chased by police.

Figures on deaths following police contact have risen substantially in recent years, more than doubling from 12 in 2015 to 27 in 2022.

Deborah Coles, executive director of the charity, Inquest, said:“The way the figures obfuscate serious systemic problems is of real concern.

“This reinforces the whole issue of deaths in police custody or following police contact being shrouded in secrecy. This doesn’t receive the scrutiny that it clearly needs.”

Pauline McNeill MSP, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesperson, pictured right, said: “In order for people to have complete trust in Police Scotland, full transparency is required on serious issues such as the deaths of people held in custody.

“The figures should be clear and complete, and robust processes must be in place to ensure that grieving families feel supported and receive accountability during a traumatic time for them.”

But assistant chief constable Alan Speirs, of Police Scotland, said robust procedures were already in place.

“Each year, thousands of people with a range of complex physical, mental and social issues have contact with police. It is therefore vital that any death following police contact is recorded and reviewed appropriately,” he added.

“This enables us to ensure that we did everything possible to safeguard that person. We have a duty of care in all public interactions and we continually strive to improve how we serve our communities.”

Karin Goodwin’s full report is on The Ferret website

One comment

  1. The pictures of around four armed police officers surrounding and cornering an 11 year old child said to be holding a knife in one hand and a phone in another before being tasered with 50 thousand volts was an example of how people are dying when they come into contact with police.

    Brutality and intimidation is a hallmark of all too many police officers in Scotland, and this behaviour is sanctioned from the top. Police breaking into people’s homes during covid in response to fallacious reports of there being people from more than one family in the house, or the policeman who goes berserk shouting at someone because he was taking pictures, or the policeman who forces his way into someone’s house because a traffic cop thought he saw someone on the phone in their car, are all part and parcel of today’s Police Scotland.

    Or a Prime Minister who at the height of Covid can with his circus fly to Scotland for an absolutely non essential political promotion junket; to Tory backers with Police rejecting all complaints about his illegal behaviour.

    No wonder ordinary citizens no longer have any trust in a politically biased and ever more abusive Police Scotland. But look at the top tier of management in Police Scotland – full of ex military , security service, ex RUC and National Crime Agency personnel its not difficult to see where the bias and brutality comes from.

    And now Humza Yousaf wants to dispense with jury trials. To increase the number of convictions. The epitome of a hanging sheriff. The bringing of verdicts into the direct political control of a politically appointed judge. 1930’s Germany was big on that. In fact their Nacht und Nebel decree ( Night and Fog ) was a further development of that. Lifting people with no publicly available access and or recourse.

    And could that be next after the removal of juries. Well for some of us who remember the 70’s and 80’s there was a procedure in Northern Ireland called the Diplock Courts. Lifted at the behest of the RUC individuals were thereafter incarcerated or should I say interned on the order of a sole judge reviewing the police ground for having individuals incarcerated.

    Kind of makes you realise why the Americans introduced their fourth amendment and where there was a line of thinking about how governments could go bad and turn against the people. Or as one commentator at the time said, something to protect the citizens should the British come back.

    But yes, Stasi and Nazi rhyme, and their type of thinking and methods were not restricted to Germany. South African Police Force or the RUC in the day – and you get the message. Democracy is a hard kept thing.

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