Carrick Ryan

About Carrick Ryan

Carrick Ryan is a former Federal Agent turned Political Commentator and Blogger. You can find more of his work on his website over on Facebook (

Solely blaming the police will not reduce indigenous deaths in custody

While I understand many are furious at the police for the indigenous deaths on their watch, the actual issue is far larger. 



There is a lot of anger in the community right now, and a lot of that anger is directed towards the police. I get that.

There have been 437 indigenous deaths in custody since 1991. A horrific number that is, in the minds of many, clear evidence of police brutality and racism. But there are some important numbers to consider:

Of the 437 deaths, only 146 were actually in police “custody” (the rest being in prison where prison officers, not the police, are responsible).

Of the 146 deaths, 39 were motor vehicle crashes as a result of police pursuit (this is deemed a death in custody if the police were pursuing with the intention to arrest). 31 were natural causes, 28 were suicide. The rest due to accidents and similar.

In total, there have been ten deaths in 25 years that have been ruled “justifiable homicide”. This ultimately means that the ten times an officer has killed an indigenous person and been cleared either by a court or independent investigation.


By simply saying “Fuck the Police” a lot of Australians wash their hands of the collective blame our whole society needs to carry for this issue.


Now some might feel that perhaps many instances of police brutality are simply attributed to “accidents” and “suicide” as a cover-up. However, when one considers that indigenous death rates in custody are actually lower than other Australians, this would require that pattern to be consistent across all races, but there is no evidence to support this theory.

The biggest issue is that Indigenous Australians are sixteen times more likely to be incarcerated than other Australians.

This is due to poverty, lack of opportunities, lack of access to legal representation, and…undoubtedly, racist individuals within the police force.

There are 60,000 Police in this country, even if just 1% of them were racist, that’s a few hundred too many. Of course, the actions of just one bad cop can ruin lives, but by simply saying “Fuck the Police” a lot of Australians wash their hands of the collective blame our whole society needs to carry for this issue.

It’s easier just to say the reason why young indigenous are losing the best years of their life is because of racist police officers and then carry on with our lives guilt-free. But the truth is the blood is on all our hands.

We must address indigenous inequality. Only then will less Indigenous Australians will end up in the judicial system, and only then will there be a reduction in deaths in custody.





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