A ‘Deaths in custody’ corporate manslaughter crime has been created so that Police and other authorities can now be prosecuted over deaths in custody in England, Scotland and Wales.
BBC News highlights that the new legislation of The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act, which has now come into effect means police forces, the MoD, UK Border Agency and private firms managing people held in custody can be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter. Corporations can already be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter or for the equivalent offence (corporate homicide) in Scotland. The extension of these offences to public bodies involved in detention means they could be prosecuted if they failed to ensure the safety of someone in their care. Examples could include deaths during an immigration removal or when someone has been restrained using an unauthorised or badly taught body hold.
The law does not cover incidents abroad, such as where someone dies in the custody of British forces. However, British nationals can be convicted of causing a death through gross negligence, even if the fatality occurred overseas. The provisions are not retrospective, meaning the law could not apply to cases such as Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan man who died during his deportation in October 2010.
Under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act of 2006, priosoners were included as ‘vulnerable adults’. However the Protection of Freedoms Bill will remove this status when it becomes law.