Alcohol and deaths in police custody

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1992 Aug;16(4):670-2. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1992.tb00657.x.


We examined the involvement of alcohol consumption, chronic alcohol abuse or dependence, the soundness of the police determination of alcohol-related intoxication, and the importance of other drugs in deaths in police custody in a survey of the cases reported to the Chief Coroner of Ontario during the past 10 years. The data suggest no mismanagement by the police. At least 86% of the fatalities were associated with recent alcohol consumption or chronic alcohol abuse/dependence. Use of drugs other than alcohol was far less common. Promoting use and further development of simple tests to estimate blood alcohol concentration, chronic alcohol problems, and suicide risk, before incarceration takes place, may save lives.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / mortality*
  • Alcoholism / mortality
  • Cause of Death*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / pharmacokinetics
  • Psychotropic Drugs / poisoning
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality


  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Ethanol