Bishop of Chester calls for NHS to be given responsibility for those in police care

On 30th October 2017 a Government statement was repeated in the Lords on the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini’s Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody, and the Government’s substantive response. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a question after the statement:

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I very much welcome the report; I have simply read the executive summary. It is obviously important to respond well after death occurs, but equally, arguably, it is even more important to put in place measures to reduce the possibility of death. This is where the healthcare provision in the police service is especially important. Given that the NHS has a direct responsibility to provide healthcare in prisons but does not have an equivalent responsibility for those in police care, and given that for half the people the cause of death is alcohol and drug-related, is there not a need to join up A&E, the police, the whole NHS and police support? It is no doubt complex, but at the heart of this lies quite a simple issue. This ought to be brought within the ambit of the NHS, which is the case with prisons.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The right reverend Prelate is correct that while it is complex, it is incredibly simple. We have dealt with this sort of multiagency approach in other public service areas in the past. He is also right to talk about the approach to drugs and alcohol and the possibility that misuse can lead to death in custody. Of course, a range of various treatments is already available in prisons, but the Government will certainly consider this in due course.