Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. David Baker
    Pages 21-52
  3. David Baker
    Pages 53-78
  4. David Baker
    Pages 109-136
  5. David Baker
    Pages 137-166
  6. David Baker
    Pages 167-198
  7. David Baker
    Pages 199-210
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 211-233

About this book


This book investigates death after police contact in England and Wales in the twenty-first century. It examines how regulatory bodies construct accountability in such cases. Cases of death after police contact have the potential to cause deep unease in society. They highlight the unique role of the police in being legitimately able to use force whilst at the same time being expected to preserve life. People who are from Black, or Minority Ethnic backgrounds, or have mental health issues, or are dependent on substances are disproportionately more likely to die in these cases, and this emphasises the sensitive nature of many of these deaths to society.

Deaths after Police Contact examines police legitimacy and the legitimacy of police regulators in these cases. The book argues that accountability is produced by a relatively arbitrary system of regulation that investigates such deaths as individual cases, rather than attempting to learn lessons from annual trends and patterns that might prevent future deaths. It will be of great interest to scholars and upper-level students of policing and criminal justice.


Criminology Policing Legitimacy Criminal Justice Crime and Society Ethnicity Race Mental Health deaths in custody coroners’ courts police regulation avoidable death police complaints bodies police use of force governance of public services race and crime

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Coventry UniversityCoventryUnited Kingdom

About the authors

David Baker is Lecturer in Criminology at Coventry University, UK. In 2013-14 he won the award for 'Most Inspirational Teacher' at Coventry University. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship (2016-17) and is currently undertaking research into the issue of death after police contact in the United States.

Bibliographic information


“Deaths after police contact raise the most anguished and sensitive issues in policing. Dr David Baker's important book is the first comprehensive analysis of this, and goes to the heart of most of the crucial questions about the police, the state's repository of legitimate force. It notably tackles thorny issues about the role of police, and how can they be rendered accountable for their performance of a highly contested mandate. It will be vital reading for all concerned about policing, whether as academics, practitioners, policy-makers or citizens.” (Robert Reiner, Emeritus Professor of Criminology, Law Dept., LSE)

“This book represents the first profound academic study into the subject of “death after police contact”. It is an original, timely and necessary contribution to the body of knowledge of policing studies. The volume goes far beyond the technical issue of “death after police contact”, and raises unavoidable questions related to law, criminal justice, sociology, political science, and governance more generally. It appeals to academics, students and practitioners in these areas, and anyone interested in social justice and - without any doubt - in the central question of police accountability.” (Prof. dr. emeritus Paul Ponsaers, Ghent University, Belgium)

“In the United Kingdom, as in other countries around the world, many people die after police contact—some kinds of people far more than others. In this thoughtful and highly original study, David Baker illuminates some of the reasons why this troublesome pattern persists, year after year—and offers compelling suggestions for change.  Beyond the problem of deaths after police contact, this book provides important lessons about the fraught relationships between the police and the rest of us more generally—not only in the U.K. but in other countries, including the United States, where tensions between police and the communities they serve have reached crisis levels.” (Elliott Currie, Professor of Criminology, Law and Society: University of California, USA)