Councils and other public and private bodies whose negligence leads to the death of individuals will face prosecution under a new law due to come into force next April.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act was passed last week, when the government made a concession to penal reformers to include deaths in custody – although only after a three-year delay.
Ministers said the delay would allow consultation with the Prison Service and the police. Baroness Ashton, the leader of the House of Lords, told peers the Prison Service needed time to consider the legislation because it was under much pressure.
Lord David Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, who led the parliamentary campaign to include deaths in custody in the legislation, welcomed the act but said he was “disappointed” by the delay, and challenged the rationale for it.
“The prison population is increasing day by day and I cannot see that in three years time we will be any better off than we are now. The problem will still be there,” he said.
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