New South Wales

Jun 8, 2011

Deaths in custody: sweeping changes, but coroners critical of inquiry

Serious questions about the integrity, accountability and independence of death in custody investigations are still being raised by NSW coroners, despite sweeping changes following a Royal Commission, writes Inga Ting.

Serious questions about the integrity, accountability and independence of death in custody investigations are still being raised by NSW coroners, despite the government’s claims to have made sweeping changes following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Coroners openly criticised either the standard of post-death investigations in 13 separate inquests in the past nine years, according to a Crikey analysis of NSW Coroner’s annual reports into deaths in custody. Police investigations were criticised in six separate inquests and the Corrective Services’ internal investigations unit in 10 inquests. Missing, damaged and altered evidence, insufficient allocation of resources, and failure to follow proper procedure were among the most common complaints.

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