Mental health deaths inquiry launched

Inquiry by Equality and Human Rights Commission will report in spring 2015

Picture credit: Charlie Milligan

An inquiry into deaths of people with mental health conditions who have died while detained in hospitals, police custody or prisons has been launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The inquiry will examine suicide, homicide, unknown and accidental deaths of people in psychiatric hospitals, prison and police custody in England and Wales. The commission will assess evidence between 2010 and 2013 to identify trends and systemic issues that might be resulting in deaths.

There were 98 non-natural deaths of people detained in psychiatric hospitals and almost half of those who died in police custody in 2012-31 had mental health conditions, the EHRC said.

The commission will work closely with social care regulator the Care Quality Commission and other relevant organisations and will also take evidence from frontline staff. The inquiry will gauge how well hospitals, prisons and police forces are complying with Human Right Act duties to protect everyone’s right to life. A report on the findings will be published in spring 2015.

Mark Hammond, chief executive of the EHRC, said: “’The right to life is the most fundamental right we all share. Despite efforts by the various authorities to prevent deaths of people in psychiatric hospitals, prisons and police custody, every year there are preventable deaths. We want to work with all the organisations involved to make sure the lessons of previous tragedies are indeed being learnt.”

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