Making sense of “excited delirium” in cases of death after police contact.

David Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The term ‘excited delirium’ has been used by coroners’ courts and police regulators in England and Wales to classify some cases of death after police contact. It is suggested that this term explains the extreme drug toxicity that gives individuals incredible strength and resistance to pain. This is despite excited delirium not being recognized as a condition by a number of healthcare organizations worldwide. Verdicts recorded by juries after deaths after police contact in coroners’ courts in England and Wales in the period 2009–15 are analysed in addition to a review of extant literature on policing and excited delirium. This article argues that although excited delirium is of uncertain aetiology and typically exists within a constellation of symptoms, it might still have utility in enabling police to identify and safely deal with individuals in crisis situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361–371
Number of pages11
JournalPolicing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.
Issue number4
Early online date5 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • death after police contact
  • coroners’ courts
  • police accountability
  • excited delirium


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