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Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Investigations into deaths in custody

This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

37.—(1) The Ombudsman shall carry out an investigation into the death of a person—

(a)at any prison while the person is being held there;

(b)while that person is in the custody of a prison officer at a place outside a prison; or

(c)which the Ombudsman is satisfied should be investigated because it is or may be linked to events which have occurred—

(i)at any prison while that person was being held there; or

(ii)while that person was in the custody of a prison officer at a place outside a prison.

(2) In carrying out the investigation, the Ombudsman must aim—

(a)to establish the circumstances surrounding the death;

(b)to address any concerns of the family of the deceased;

(c)to determine whether any changes in operational arrangements at a prison would prevent or reduce the risk of deaths occurring under the same or similar circumstances; and

(d)to discover any facts likely to assist a coroner’s inquest into the death.

(3) Subject to subsection (2), it is for the Ombudsman to determine the scope of, and the procedure to be applied to, an investigation under this section.

(4) The Ombudsman may defer an investigation under this section at any time if it appears to the Ombudsman that—

(a)a criminal investigation might be adversely affected by the Ombudsman’s investigation;

(b)the exercise of functions under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 might be adversely affected by the Ombudsman’s investigation;

(c)it is appropriate to do so because of any proceedings for judicial review; or

(d)it is appropriate to do so for any other reason.

(5) The Ombudsman may at any time re-open a deferred investigation.

(6) At any time in the course of an investigation under this section the Ombudsman shall—

(a)draw to the attention of the police any matter which in the Ombudsman’s opinion is relevant to any criminal investigation into the death;

(b)draw to the attention of any body or person any matter which in the Ombudsman’s opinion calls for action to be taken by that body or person.

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