There were 17 deaths in or following police custody in 2014/15 - the highest number for five years, figures from the Independent Police Complaints Commission have shown.
Six more people died in the most recent reporting period than in the previous 12 months.
The last time the figure was higher was in 2010/11, when it stood at 21.
It was also revealed that there were 69 apparent suicides following custody, a massive 50% higher than the 46 cases in 2010/11.
Theresa May has said she will launch a major review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody.
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Police will not be able to use water cannon to control serious public disorder, Theresa May has confirmed.
The Home Secretary said she had decided not to authorise forces in England and Wales to deploy the Ziegler Wasserwerfer 9000.
The Metropolitan Police has said it is "naturally disappointed" by Theresa May's decision.
The move could pave the way for a row after London mayor Boris Johnson approved the purchase by Scotland Yard of three of the cannon second-hand from German police last year at a cost of more than £200,000.
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The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said funding cuts mean difficult decisions lie ahead for police and society as they hit the Met's ability to tackle the array of crimes.
One of the problems we do have is that you get less and less money spent on policing at the moment. Probably a third less over the next two years, so there's going to have to be some hard decisions made by society and by the police.
It's incredibly important but there are also other things too which we have to see to so we do our best to put as many resources as possible to work our way through it but there's no doubt its a massive challenge.
There's no doubt its a challenge to keep up with the pace, because before the internet existed this sort of crime didn't happen.
Sir Bernard also said that police arrest an average of one person a day for terrorist offences and that the number arrested had risen by a third compared to last year.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said that officers are just "skimming the surface" despite efforts to protect children online.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that while the force had employed more officers in the area, policing the internet remained a "massive challenge". The commissioner said the Met had a squad of 300 officers dedicated to internet security which is likely to grow by 200 in the next year, but added "even then I think we're skimming the surface a bit"
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