The United Nations has raised serious concern over the deaths of a “disproportionate number” of black and minority ethnic people in police custody in Britain.
“The deaths reinforce the experiences of structural racism, over-policing and criminalisation of people of African descent and other minorities in the UK,” a panel of human rights experts said.
They accused authorities of failing to properly and investigate police officers involved in the deaths, leaving a lack of accountability and the “denial of adequate remedies reparation for the families of the victims”.
It came after the 25th anniversary over the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence cast renewed focus on racism in the UK.
An inquiry found that “institutional racism” had marred the police investigation and let the killers initially go free, amid alleged corruption that is still under investigation.
The murder sparked the creation of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), changes to race relations laws, recruitment targets for black and Asian police officers and soul-searching across Britain.
But statistics show that BAME people are still disproportionately treated by police and throughout the justice system, with a review by David Lammy MP revealing that black people are more likely to be jailed in the UK than US.
Several young black man have died in police custody over the past year, seeing angry protests break out in London over the deaths of Rashan Charles and Edson Da Costa within weeks of each other.
Seven people have died in police custody in England and Wales so far this year, with the total reaching 23 in 2013.
Many of the incidents remain under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog and subject to ongoing coroners’ inquests.
Earlier this week, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Devon and Cornwall Police were being charged with health and safety offences over the death of Thomas Orchard, a mentally ill white man.