Under the Coroners Act 1988, all inquests into the deaths of people in custody must be held before a jury. The Bill seeks to change this so that only unnatural or violent deaths will be investigated, drastically cutting the number of inquests heard before juries each year.
Steven Allen, the son of Sandra Allen, a vulnerable manic depressive who died whilst in detention under the Mental Health Act has been campaigning to have the Bill amended. He argues that all deaths where the state is involved - whether the person is in custody, or in 'detention' - should be held before juries.
"My mum died due to serious systemic failures in her care, whilst she was compulsorily detained under the Mental Health Act in 2006. The coroner in the case refused to hear any evidence about systemic problems and heard the entire case on his own, without a jury. I am saddened that the Bill in its current form is not strengthening inquests to ensure that the deaths of all people under the power of the state are properly and independently investigated."
He argues that mental health patients, as well as immigration detainees, along with prisoners, are all uniquely vulnerable and that, where they die in custody or detention, their cases should be heard by members of the public, and not just remote judicial figures.
For more information on the campaign, please visit http://justice4sandra.blogspot.com.