Sean Rigg Brixton custody death ‘symbol of deeper problem’ says police watchdog

A police watchdog has said the death of  Sean Rigg in Brixton police station is symptomatic of a deeper problem with the treatment of the mentally ill.

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said there was a series of missed opportunities by the health authority and police officers that took place in the run up to Rigg’s death.

The report follows a narrative verdict by a jury at Southwark Coroner’s Court, which found that officers used “unsuitable” force when restraining Rigg for eight minutes shortly before he died of a cardiac arrest.

Amerdeep Somal, who carried out the IPCC’s report, said: “Sean Rigg’s death is a symptom of a deeper problem: the linkage between mental illness and deaths in or following police custody.

“At the inquest, concerns were raised about the care Mr Rigg received from the South London and Maudsley Mental Health Trust (Slam).

“It is clear that, although staff at the supported hostel where he was living recognised that his condition was deteriorating during August and that his medication was overdue, he was not subject to a mental health risk assessment by staff at Slam.

“Nor did the police involved recognise or respond to his condition.”

Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, will now commission an external review of the watchdog’s original investigation, and an overall review of deaths in custody of the mentally in will begin in September.

Half of all deaths in police custody in 2011/12 were of people with mental illness, the report said.

“They represent a particularly vulnerable group, often, as in Mr Rigg’s case, failed by the people and systems that ought to protect them,” said Somal.

She added: “I have no doubt there are lessons for the IPCC from the investigation into Mr Rigg’s tragic death.”


  1. as someone who works alongside all the organisations involved in this case, and has access to all the casenotes i can only say that this whole thing has been an absolute disgrace. it’s one thing to say that the police haev a problem dealing with mentally ill people – that’s fair enough, though disappointing, another that numerous police officers lied under oath time and time again to cover up the fact that mr rigg was treated brutally and inappropriately at all stages of his contact with them. they’ve done their best to spin this into a “mentally ill people are hard to deal with” case and not a “no-one should be treated with such brutality” case. my only response to brixtonites is never come into contact with brixton police, they’re vicious violent lying thugs.

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