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And By Hand
The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
28 October 2011
Dear Prime Minister
Deaths in State Custody
We write to you from the United Family and Friends Campaign (UFFC), the coalition of family campaigns who have lost loved ones as a result of violence or neglect of state officials charged within their care. These include the police, prison and immigration officers and NHS staff.
This Saturday, 29 October, will mark the UFFC’s 13th annual remembrance procession and we will march to Downing Street from Trafalgar Square. For the record, this is the 13th annual letter to the head of the government from UFFC since its inception in the late 90’s when it was formed to demand justice for those who have died in state custody in suspicious and controversial circumstances. On no occasion has the government engaged in a process of meaningful dialogue following the delivery of the letters.
Please see attached Press Statement from some members of the families.
It is widely accepted that the spark of this summers disturbances was because of the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham. This was in culmination of a number of high profile deaths including that of David Emmanuel, Demetre Fraser and Kingsley Burrell and all these deaths continue unabated. So has the anger. It is therefore now MOST URGENT if not imperative that you and your cabinet now put the issue of deaths in custody as a priority on your political agenda and be seen to be doing as such.
In the last year it has become clear in a number of cases that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are not independent of the police. In February 2010, your Home Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry by the Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP found that the work of the IPCC failed to inspire public confidence in their handling of complaints against the police. Not surprisingly, amongst other things, this is due to its employment of ex-police officers and biased assertions by the IPCC that the police can do no wrong. Repeated recommendations made by them are repeatedly not acted upon. The IPCC are therefore no longer fit for purpose.
In Crispin Blunt MP’s (unhelpful) letter of 8 December 2010 (copy enclosed) in reply to our letter to you of 30 October 2010, he claims that “all deaths are deeply regretted". What “deep regret” does Blunt and/or the government really have towards families of those killed by the state? Families waiting years for inquests into their loved ones death does not show regret. Families being perpetually lied to does not show regret. Officers not made accountable for wrongful doing and deceit does not show regret. Families compelled to contribute large sums for legal representation at Inquests, while state officials receive full funding from the taxpayers’ purse, does not show regret.
Past precedents show that the judicial system has not afforded any meaningful and/or no justice whatsoever to grieving families, hence the reason for our continued peaceful protests for redress following denials of basic human right to life of our loved ones. There is a strategy of long drawn out investigations, which go on for years in order to wear families down. We have relentlessly used the judicial process system to no avail.
We demand the following actions:
1. Replacement of the IPCC to ensure open robust transparent and thorough investigations into police deaths in custody by a ‘truly’ independent body from the very outset of the death.
2. Officers and officials directly involved in custody deaths to be suspended until investigations are completed.
3. Immediate interviewing of officers and all officials concerned with the death.
4. Officers and officials should never be allowed to ‘collude’ over their evidence and statements of fact.
5. Full disclosure of information to the families.
6. Prosecutions should automatically follow ‘unlawful killing’ verdicts at Inquests and officers responsible for those deaths should face criminal charges, even if retired.
7. Implementation of police body cameras and cameras in all police vehicles in the interests of both the officers and the public.
8. The end of means testing of families for legal aid. There is a lack of funds for family legal representation at Inquests whilst officers and NHS staff get full legal representation from the public purse – this is unbalanced.
It is evident that the judicial system against those who commit crimes requires urgent attention. We respectfully request that you engage in a meeting with us personally to address the issues outlined in this letter, to which please acknowledge receipt.
Please note that this is an open letter in the interests of the public. All our rights are reserved.
Marcia Rigg and Samantha Rigg-David
On behalf of UFFC
Encl: Press Statement – 28 October 2011
REPLIES TO OUR LETTERS:-