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Reported assaults and observed injuries in detainees held in police custody

Reported assaults and observed injuries in detainees held in police custody

Forensic Science International 223(1-3): 184-188

The deprivation of liberty in police custody can be associated with violent situations and traumatic injuries. The rare available data did not mention whether alleged assaults occurred at the time of the arrest or during custody. Our objectives were to describe the frequency of recent traumatic injuries observed in detainees at the time of medical examination and to record detainees' self-reports of received physical violence, either before being arrested, at the time of the arrest, or during custody. In 2694 consecutive detainees examined in a suburban area near Paris, we compared persons' characteristics in four groups, according to the existence of alleged assaults or the presence of recent traumatic injuries, or both. Detainees reported to be victims of physical assaults in 25% of cases (686 of 2694): 374 assaults of 686 (55%) occurred at the time of arrest and 87 of 686 (13%) during custody. The opinion of assaulted detainees on custody was worse than non-assaulted detainees. Detainees alleging assaults by the police, whatever the time of the assault, accounted for 396 cases (15%). Three quarters of detainees (547 of 686, 79%) alleging assaults had recent traumatic injuries. When we considered all detainees, medical examination showed recent traumatic injuries in 724 of 2694 (27%). Injured detainees were declared unfit for detention more frequently than non-injured non-assaulted detainees (P<0.05). These results strengthen the need and usefulness that the attending physician systematically takes note of detainees' self reports of assaults and investigates recent traumatic injuries at the time of custody.

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Accession: 055506001

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 22980144

DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.08.031

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