Seven people died during or following Greater Manchester Police contact last year, according to figures released by the Independent Police Complaints Commission today.
The report revealed an increase of four deaths between 2011/12 compared with the previous term and the GMP have the highest fatality rate outside of London’s Metropolitan police.
The figures include deaths as a result of road collisions, shootings, care received while in police custody or suicides following police custody.
Cllr Paul Murphy, Chairman of Greater Manchester Police Authority, said: “Every death is regrettable and our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those involved.
“The Police Authority is kept informed about all investigations undertaken by the IPCC, so that we can ensure any lessons are learnt. We also receive a copy of the final investigation report, including any recommendations, which are scrutinised and monitored by the Police Authority’s Audit and Risk Committee.”
Nationally, deaths have decreased from 147 to 121 but remain higher than 2009 (86 deaths) and 2008 (92 deaths).
Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "The reduction in the number of deaths during or following police contact is noted but the reality is that any death following detention in police custody is a tragedy.
“We are determined to learn lessons whenever a death occurs and all such incidents are referred to the IPCC for an independent investigation as a matter of course.”
The figures are categorised by five types of death and include victims who died while trying to escape police, from injuries or illness received while in police custody, and those that occur while officers attend a siege situation.
Assistant Chief Constable Copley added: “As the figures demonstrate some detainees enter custody with existing or emerging health, mental health or substance misuse problems.
“Officers and staff receive training and guidance on how to effectively identify, respond to and care for people in these circumstances. They do so extremely effectively in the vast majority of cases in what is sometimes a challenging and difficult operating environment.
“The police service however remains determined to continue to improve the way that people are cared for while in our custody. We share the IPCC concerns in relation to people who die in or after custody and who are known to have mental health problems.
“We are continuing to work closely with partners to establish more appropriate and coordinated options to better meet the needs of vulnerable people.”
The GMP’s figures are the highest in country outside of the capital (12), alongside Durham, Northamtonshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.
There were three deaths in Greater Manchester during 2010/2011, five during 2009/2010 and ten during 2008/2009.