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Joint fatal accident inquiry to be held into two deaths in police custody

Declan Gallacher died in 2018 and David Berry in 2020, while in the custody of Police Scotland.

Glasgow Sheriff Court

A fatal accident inquiry is to be held into the deaths of two men in police custody.

Declan Gallacher died in custody at Clydebank Police Office in West Dunbartonshire on December 23, 2018 and David Berry died at Govan Police Office in Glasgow on July 11, 2020.

The purpose of a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) is to determine the cause of death, the circumstances in which the death occurred, and to establish what reasonable precautions could have been taken, in order to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

It is anticipated the focus of the FAI, which is mandatory, will be on custody processes, risk assessments, welfare checks and supervision of custody staff.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it has lodged a first notice with Glasgow Sheriff Court to start the court process for a joint FAI into the deaths of Mr Gallacher and Mr Berry.

Procurator fiscal Katrina Parkes, head of the COPFS Scottish fatalities investigation unit, said: “The Lord Advocate considers that the deaths of Declan Gallacher and David Berry occurred while in custody and as such a fatal accident inquiry is mandatory.

“The lodging of the first notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the sheriff.

“An FAI will allow a full public airing of all the evidence at which families and other interested parties will be represented. The evidence will be tested in a public setting and be the subject of judicial determination.

“The families and their legal representatives will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.”

A preliminary hearing will be held on May 12 at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Unlike criminal proceedings, FAIs are inquisitorial in nature, and are used to establish facts rather than apportion blame.

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