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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

June 16, 2005: No Prosecution Over Death Of Roger Sylvester

Inquest, an independent organisation which monitors the number of deaths in custody, has released a statement from the family of Roger Sylvester following the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that there should be no prosecution in connection with Mr Sylvester's death.

Mr Sylvester, who lived in Tottenham, North London, died in January 1999 after being restrained by police officers at St Ann's Hospital, Tottenham pending the arrival of a doctor. The CPS concluded today, after what it described as "very careful and lengthy consideration", that there was insufficient evidence to justify the prosecution of any person in relation to Mr Sylvester's death.

Since then, there has been an inquest, completed in October 2003, and a subsequent judicial review of the inquest verdict, which concluded in November 2004. The review was undertaken by a senior CPS lawyer, with advice from leading counsel. The CPS awaited the outcome of the judicial review of the inquest verdict, studied the judgment of Mr Justice Collins and considered further representations from the family, before arriving at this decision.

The family of Roger Sylvester said:

“We are disappointed but not surprised at the decision announced by the CPS today – throughout the period of over six years since Roger’s death in custody, we have faced a criminal justice system that has been persistently unable and unwilling to bring its own to account."

“So, we see that this decision has been shaped by a desire to avoid any prosecution of the officers responsible for Roger’s death, in the same way as the police investigation into the death at the outset was designed as an exercise in mitigation of the officers rather than a rigorous investigation into a potential homicide. Even then, we note that the CPS has been compelled to a position where they can no longer dispute the responsibility of the officers for Roger’s death, but they nevertheless insist that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute those officers in respect of their culpability."

“The only opportunity that we and the public at large have had to bring that evidence under proper scrutiny was at the inquest in 2003 when the jury returned its unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. In other words, on the evidence they heard, the jury were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Roger’s death was the result of an unlawful and dangerous restraint applied to him by the officers."

“For our part, we find greater force in that pronouncement on the evidence by members of the public who heard all the evidence rather than upon the subjective view of a decision maker within the CPS that has yet to prove its willingness or ability to allow justice to be seen to be done in cases of deaths in custody.”

Inquest Co-Director Deborah Coles, who has worked with Roger’s family since his death, commented:

“Roger Sylvester was a young healthy black man who died because of the fatal restraint used against him by police officers. There is something shameful about a system where people die in custody and yet no one is to be held accountable. In this case a flawed investigation has shaped the deliberations of the Crown Prosecution Service and its resulting decision. This decision comes as no surprise as it follows a pattern of cases that have revealed an unwillingness and reluctance of the Crown Prosecution to approach these deaths as potential homicides. This sends out a clear message that police officers are above the law.”