Published analysis of drug-related deaths in police custody (Havis & Best 2003) indicates that stimulants generally, and cocaine in particular, are the main drugs associated with death from overdose deaths in this setting. Further research is needed in this area, but the possibility is that many such deaths are associated with some of the following factors:
- swallowing of drug packages at/around the time of arrest – it is likely that many of these packages are swallowed in haste, have not been designed to survive passage through the body and therefore leak
- concealment of drugs at the time of arrest and later consumption while in custody deliberate overdose connected to mental health issues
- a lack of understanding on the part of drug users of the overdose potential of cocaine
- a lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of arresting officers and custody suite staff of the potential problems associated with swallowing of stimulants.
See also our page on drugs and depression, it has more detailed information.
Prison Reform Trust Web Site
Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths In Custody Web Site
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Deaths in custody Web Page