After an almost five-year wait, the mother of 39-year-old Leon Briggs, who died after being restrained by Bedfordshire Police officers in 2013, says she is devastated to have been told by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that no officers will face charges in relation to his death.
Mr Briggs died on 4 November 2013. He had been detained under the Mental Health Act and restrained by police officers at Luton police station. After becoming unresponsive, an ambulance was called and Leon was pronounced dead.
Following an investigation by the IPCC (now the IOPC), the matter was referred to the CPS in March 2016 in relation to the actions of five police officers and a member of police staff. However, in January this year, Margaret Briggs was told by the CPS that there was insufficient evidence to proceed against one of the officers, and has now learnt that no charges will be brought against the remaining five.
Responding to the news, Margaret Briggs says: “I am devastated that after almost five long years I am no closer to finding out what happened to Leon or to getting some accountability for his death. My son was struggling with his mental health, that struggle should not have resulted in his death at the hands of Bedfordshire police.
“My one hope is that the inquest into Leon’s death can start as soon as possible. I am desperate for some answers and hopefully, in time, some closure.”
Jocelyn Cockburn of London solicitors, Hodge Jones & Allen represents Mrs Briggs. She says: “No mother should have to wait five years to find out what led to the death of her son. In order for her to have had any confidence in the investigation, it needed to be open and transparent, which this was not. However, that is exactly what the inquest process must achieve. I hope that the Coroner will now resume the inquest into Leon’s death allowing a public examination of the facts.
“Furthermore, with deaths in police custody at a 10-year high, there are significant issues of public interest at stake which need proper scrutiny so that lessons are learnt and future deaths are avoided.”
An inquest was opened and adjourned into Leon’s death on 8 Jan 2014 at Hertfordshire Coroner’s Office.