Inquest support for a
death involving the police

When your loved one has died following police contact or whilst in police custody, you and your family will want answers to understand how the death occurred or why your loved one was not kept safe.

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Supporting you after a death involving the police

Examples include:

  • inappropriate use of force by police officers, such as excessive force or inappropriate use of Taser guns
  • deaths occurring during a police pursuit/car chase
  • deaths occurring whilst in the police station or in police custody
  • medical deaths where the police have failed to recognise/respond to the condition, or have failed to arrange appropriate treatment
  • suicide in police custody, or following police contact.

In these situations, a Coroner will usually hold an inquest to investigate the circumstances of the death. Generally, when an inquest involves the police, it will be known as an ‘Article 2’ Inquest.

Inquests may be a distressing and daunting experience for you. Our specialist solicitors will advise you at every step of the process though, ensuring key documents such as police records, CCTV footage and medical records are provided, and that key witnesses are called to give evidence. We can also liaise with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), formerly the ‘IPCC’, and advise you on any complaints process, investigations or reports which arise from the IOPC involvement.

We will provide specialist representation for you throughout the inquest hearing so that your concerns about what happened to your loved one are properly addressed. After the inquest, or if an inquest did not take place, we can also advise you on whether you can bring a claim for compensation for any negligence on the part of the police.

We can also help put you in touch with specialist organisations that can provide further support during this difficult time. By way of example, we work closely with the charity INQUEST, who provide an invaluable source of support and information where someone has died following police involvement.

The following leaflet, prepared by the government, may also help you to understand the practical steps and processes that occur after someone has died in police custody.

Do you need a solicitor for an inquest?

There’s no obligation to instruct a solicitor for an inquest; you can represent yourself if you wish. However, there are many benefits to having a solicitor represent you, particularly where the hospital/treatment provider is likely to have legal representation.

We strongly urge people to consider specialist legal representation for an inquest in all but the most straightforward and uncontroversial deaths.

The formalities and procedure of an inquest hearing are likely to be a daunting prospect for the family of the deceased, particularly whilst grieving for the loss of their loved on;  having your own lawyer fighting your corner will ease the burden.

Furthermore, the other Interested Parties are likely to be far more familiar with the process outlined above and will also have their own legal teams acting for them. This can mean that family members who represent themselves feel intimidated and ill-prepared when faced with experienced advocates.

Will I have to pay legal costs?

Often representation can be provided at no direct cost to you. We recommend you get in touch with our specialist team so we can advise you on the options available for you and which may best suit your particular case.

Is this just about money?

If negligence caused the death of your loved one, compensation can help you to secure your future and that of your family, and also cover any expenses incurred as a result of the death, for example funeral costs, loss of earnings, bereavement award, additional childcare costs.

However, understandably many families don’t just want financial compensation, but answers. We strive to find out how the death happened and endeavour to ensure it doesn’t happen to another family.

our work
Recent cases

A died following police use of a taser. Having been called out to his home, and finding him to have poured fuel on himself, one of the officers deployed their taser. This caused the fuel to ignite, all in view of his parents. A died several days later from complications of the severe burns.

We supported the family throughout the inquest process, as well as the CPS, IOPC and misconduct investigations beforehand. The use of the taser in the presence of fuel was contrary to police guidance, the jury having concluded that the taser was the most likely source of the ignition which caused A’s burns. Subsequently we were able to assist A’s parents with a claim for damages and arranged for them to be seen by a psychiatrist who provided evidence of the effect A’s death had had on them. This meant we could obtain funds for them to receive specialist counselling following the horrifying events they witnessed.


M had attended a party and become intoxicated. He was detained at the police station ‘for his own safety’. No ambulance was called and M was not seen by a police medic. He was later found unconscious in his cell and sadly died, having asphyxiated on his own vomit.

We provided support to the family throughout the investigation, representing them in the inquest and dealing with press on their behalf. A claim was advanced after the inquest concluded and damages were secured to ensure M’s children were financially supported in his absence, where he had been the breadwinner for his young family.

How can RWK Goodman help you?

Our dedicated inquest team will fight on your behalf and guide you through the process, making it less daunting and ensuring that you get the best possible outcome.

Even if no inquest takes place, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation where negligence has caused or contributed to the death of your loved one. See our fatal claims page for more information.

If you would like to speak to our team, please contact us on

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Contact our inquest solicitors today
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