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July 23, 2008

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Custody providers progressing on manslaughter duty

Custody providers have made good progress to reduce the number of deaths in custody, and to prepare for implementation of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, but more needs to be done, a government report warns.

The Corporate Manslaughter Act was implemented in April this year, with the exception of s2(1)(d), which makes the duty of care owed by a custody provider to a person who is detained a relevant duty of care. It was made clear at the time that Parliament passed the Act that custody providers would need three-to-five years in order to prepare for implementation of the Act, owing to the complex procedures for caring for vulnerable, or volatile people.

When the custody provisions of the Act are finally implemented, a custody provider could be prosecuted for manslaughter if gross management failures cause the death of a prisoner.

A report by the Ministry of Justice on the progress made by custody providers to prepare for the new duty concludes that the majority will be ready in three years. However, it warns that more work is needed in the following six areas to reduce the number of deaths in custody:

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