Custody death families march again

Custody death families march again


Written by: IRR News Team

On 31 October 2009, families of those that have died in police, prison and psychiatric custody held their annual remembrance procession.

The families met at Trafalgar Square and then marched down Whitehall to hold a vigil outside Downing Street. Although numbers were small, as there was no official organising of this, the eleventh year of the march, the families that did attend were determined to continue. Families and friends attending included those of Ricky Bishop, Sean Rigg, Paul Calvert, Jason McPherson, Paul Coker, Sarah Campbell and Jason Thompson.

Stephanie Lightfoot Bennett, the sister of Leon Patterson who died in police custody in Manchester seventeen years ago led a small delegation to place poems and flowers in memory of the dead outside Downing Street. Afterwards she said, ‘I have been campaigning for so long and have been coming here for eleven years. I am not going to stop until I get some answers as to why my twin brother is dead.’

Whilst it had been the practice to hand in a petition to the prime minister calling for his personal attention in these cases, it was decided to abandon the appeal as all previous requests to successive prime ministers had been ignored.

Pat Coker, whose son Paul died in Plumstead police station, said, ‘My son died in August 2005 at the hands of the police and I have still not had an inquest into his death. Myself, and all the families here today need to be listened to and we need action.’

All the families that attended this year have decided to pursue new strategies and will be meeting as a group to take the event forward into 2010. If you are a family or friend of someone that has died in custody and would like to attend or support the 2010 event, please email:

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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