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Watchdog: Rise in Deaths Following Police Contact Caused by UK Austerity Policy

© Sputnik / Alex McNaughton / Go to the photo bankPolice officers cordon off the territory near the UK Parliament in London where an assailant attacked a police officer and pedestrians.
Police officers cordon off the territory near the UK Parliament in London where an assailant attacked a police officer and pedestrians. - Sputnik International
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The recently released figures indicating the high number of civilian deaths following contacts with police officers reflect a "crisis" caused by government austerity policies, Leroy Logan, a former superintendent in the Metropolitan Police (Met) and current Chairman of REALITY, a youth outreach group based in London, told Sputnik on Monday.

"The whole austerity policy and its impact over the years though has grown to a crisis… So you've got a lack of officers with those that remain being overwhelmed. [Police] are very thinly stretched, they are beleaguered, morale is low, they feel undervalued… So it's a real perfect storm the government have created that's going to take years to reverse. These figures about the violence are just going to get worse and worse. The system is at breaking point and actually I think it's already broken," Logan said.

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He expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in the sphere of police violence in the United Kingdom.

"I'm extremely saddened by these figures because instead of things getting better they seem to be getting worse … These raise big questions about police accountability and transparency, and also cases where individuals should be seen as patients and not just prisoners, nor in an adversarial way and not in a safe guarding fashion, especially in terms of the correlation between these cases and mental health," the REALITY chairman added.

On Wednesday, the UK Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog said that 23 people died in or following police custody in the United Kingdom between April 2017 and March 2018, marking the highest annual figure in a decade.

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According to the IOPC, three people died in a police cell, five in hospitals after feeling unwell in custody, and nine became sick at the site of arrest and later died in medical facilities. It also added that 12 out of the 23 prisoners had mental health issues, while 18 had links to alcohol and/or drug use.

In April, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said UN experts had conveyed their concerns over the deaths of people of ethnic minorities in custody in the United Kingdom.

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