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Six fatal police shootings in 2016/17 highest annual total for 13 years

The tally includes the shooting of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood.

The number of fatal police shootings in England and Wales has reached the highest level for more than a decade, new figures show.

A watchdog said the six fatalities recorded in 2016/17 was the largest annual number recorded since it began collecting the statistics in 2004.

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(PA graphic)

The tally includes the shooting of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood in March.

Data published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) also showed there were 14 deaths in police custody – the second lowest figure it has recorded.

There were 28 deaths related to police pursuits of vehicles – more than in any year since 2005/06.

Dame Anne Owers, chairwoman of the IPCC, said the rise in fatal police shootings is in the context of many thousands of authorised firearms operations.

The latest figures show there were more than 14,700 such operations in 2015/16.

“The deaths happened across six forces, and one was terrorism-related,” Dame Anne said.

“It is important that each incident is thoroughly and independently investigated, to provide public reassurance.

“Investigations into three of the 2016/17 incidents are complete and, as in the great majority of firearms investigations, we have found no indication of misconduct by any firearms officer.”

Police chiefs and the IPCC are to examine whether changes to police pursuit safety or training are needed following a rise in road traffic fatalities.

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(PA graphics)

There were 24 police pursuit-related incidents, in which 28 people died – more than double the 13 deaths in 2015/16.

Dame Anne described the rise as “noticeable”. She said: “None were in response to emergencies, and two-thirds of the people who died were passengers, bystanders or other road users.

“All but two incidents involved cars. Pursuits are dynamic and fast-moving events, and there are authorised procedures to ensure that they are as safe as possible.

“When we investigate, we examine whether those procedures have been followed, taking account of known risks. In most of the incidents investigated, this was the case.

“However, given the rise in fatalities, we will be working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to look at the causes and whether any changes to police pursuit safety or training are needed.”

The IPCC report also showed:

:: Twelve men and two women aged between 18 and 56 died in or following police custody;

:: The total of 14 is the same figure recorded as the year before, and broadly in line with the average number over the last eight years;

:: Eleven of those who died in or following police custody were known to have a link to alcohol and/or drugs, while eight were identified as having mental health concerns;

:: There were 55 apparent suicides following police custody, down from 60 in 2015/16 and the lowest figure since 2012/13.

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Dame Anne Owers described the rise in police pursuit-related deaths as 'noticeable' (PA)

Dame Anne said: “It is welcome that the number of deaths in custody has remained at less than half the number recorded when the IPCC was set up.

“However, each death is an individual tragedy, and it remains the case that the great majority of those dying both during and immediately after custody are vulnerable – through mental health and/or substance use problems.

“This is a challenge for policing, but it is also a challenge for the other services that need to be properly resourced to provide support and alternatives to police custody.”

The figures were published a day after campaigners held a vigil for Rashan Charles, 20, who died following a police pursuit in east London on Saturday.

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