Luton North MP demands answers from government after 7 year wait for Leon Briggs' inquest
The MP for Luton North has brought up the seven year wait for the inquest of Luton man Leon Briggs in the House of Commons today (Monday).
Luton North MP Sarah Owen told Home Secretary Priti Patel that "no family should have to wait seven years" to find out how they lost their relative, following Mr Briggs inquest which concluded on Friday March 12.A jury at the inquest found significant failings from police and ambulance contributed "more than minimally" to Mr Briggs' death.
Bedfordshire Police has apologised to Mr Briggs' family following the inquest's findings.
Speaking in the House of Commons, MP Sarah Owen said: “Earlier this month, the inquest into the death of Leon Briggs finally concluded. Seven years after his death, it showed that neglect and the way the police restrained Leo more than minimally contributed to his death.
"As well as this, Leon’s family have said they – I quote – ‘think race very much was an issue.’
“What action is being taken, so that no family has to face this tragedy again, or wait seven years to know how their loved one died?
"And what is her department doing to tackle racism in the justice system?"
In response, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The honourable lady raises a really important issue around equality and fair treatment of individuals in the justice system.”
“There is a great deal of work taking place across both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Specifically in relation to policing, this does come back to much of the police training, a lot of the work we do with the college, the work that our forces do as well, not just in terms of how they recruit but also how they train individuals.
“I would just like to say that I am very sorry in terms of the time that it has taken for the Briggs family to receive justice. Seven years is too long. Clearly we want to stop such appalling time periods for families to be left in limbo for such an unacceptable period of time.”
Following the exchange, Ms Owen said: “The Home Secretary’s apology is of course welcome but it will bring cold comfort. What happened to Leon was a tragedy and it should never have taken this long for his loved ones to get the answers they needed.
"Seven years of anguish has in no doubt added to the deep loss felt by his family.”
“I believe the onus needs to be on the government and police to work with communities to find trust where it has been broken or doesn’t exist. Every step must be taken to ensure that relationships are built and that this never, never happens again.”