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20 May - 10:25 am NZ
Updated at 8:36 pm on 30 June 2012
Police have responded to a report that says more than half of the 27 people who died in police custody in the decade to 2010 had been assessed by officers as being at no risk.
A review by the Independent Police Conduct Authority looked into the deaths of 27 people and 20 recommendations have been made.
It found seven people died following the use of restraint by the police.
An assistant police commissioner, Nick Perry, says officers only use the level of force necessary in order to restrain people.
He also said officers were often unaware of pre-existing health problems.
"Half of the people, of those 27 who died, already had significant health problems which the officers aren't aware of at the time they're actually tackling individuals."
Mr Perry says a significant amount of money has been spent on suicide-proofing cells and improving processes.
The review found seven people died following the use of restraint by the police. Four of these deaths involved serious neglect and policy breaches by officers.
Almost half of the 27 people who died had been drinking alcohol.
The IPCA's recommendations include extra medical support for detainees under the influence of alcohol, extra training for custody personnel and improving the safety of cells.
The Howard League for Penal Reform says it is concerned coroners are not being listened to when it comes to preventing the deaths of people held in police custody.
Spokesperson for the league, Nigel Hampton, says in future recommendations must be acted on more quickly.
"There's got to be greater attention paid to recommendations such as made by coroners, such as made by this authority and greater accountability with the police that recommendations such as these, when made, are in fact acted upon and acted upon in an expeditious way."
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
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