The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), is a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody, supports others in similar situations. Established in 1997 initially as a network of Black families, over recent years the group has expanded and now includes the families and friends of people from varied ethnicities who have also died in custody.
The network includes the families of: Leon Patterson (died in police custody in 1992), Roger Sylvester (died after being restrained by police in 1999), Rocky Bennett (died in psychiatric custody in 1998), Harry Stanley (shot dead by police officers in 1999) and Sarah Campbell (died in Styal prison in 2003) and many others.
At the press conference, Arlington Trotman of the Churches Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ) commented: ‘Deaths in custody and the way they are handled by the state is a tragedy. The [families] not knowing for years and years how their loved ones died and the poor treatment of families during that process.’
He also called for transparency in the criminal justice system and for its workers to stand back and take a look at the suffering of the families, particularly those from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. For him, Christian principles meant extending concern and support to the families of the UFFC.
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The UFFC demands that:
- Prison deaths be subject to a system of properly funded investigation that is completely independent of the Prison Service;
- Officers involved in custody deaths be suspended until investigations are completed;
- Prosecutions should automatically follow ‘unlawful killing’ verdicts;
- Police forces be made accountable to the communities they serve;
- Legal Aid and full disclosure of information is available to the relatives of victims;
- Officers responsible for deaths should face criminal charges, even if retired.
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Courtesy of 4WardEver UK with contributions from various parties.