Racism, the Press and Black Deaths in Police Custody in the United Kingdom

  • Ryan Erfani-Ghettani
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture book series (PSCMC)


In Dying for Justice, the Institute of Race Relations, looking at black and minority ethnic deaths in custody between 1991 and 2014, revealed that out of 509 cases, just ten had been considered unlawful killings at an inquest, only five prosecutions had been brought, and nobody had ever been convicted of an offence (Athwal and Bourne 2015). The media shares no small part in denying justice for the bereaved. Invariably, where one would expect the media to investigate police wrongdoing in a suspicious death in custody, the dead themselves are smeared as too strong, too volatile or too alien for their own good, and so having brought their death upon themselves. The police are able to frame the death in terms of a media narrative that portrays race, and not racism, as the problem. As family and community campaigns for justice emerge, police and the media collude to define their demands as extremist and therefore illegitimate. A potential crisis of legitimacy for the police is deflected by the press.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan Erfani-Ghettani
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Race RelationsLondonUK

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