The Prime Minister should apologise for the deaths of black people in police custody in order to rebuild bridges with the African Caribbean community, Conservative MP Charles Walker said.

Calling on the Government to address the disproportionate number of deaths of black people held in detention, the Broxbourne MP also said police officers found unofficially feeding the media stories to destroy the reputation of the dead should be fired.

Mr Walker, vice chairman of the influential backbench Tory 1922 Committee, said he "felt ashamed" about the incidents of detentions and deaths of black people in custody. And he spoke of the "total loss of trust in the establishment" among the African Caribbean community, that over the past 30 years, we have allowed the causes of these deaths to go unaddressed".

He said in the Commons: "If we are to bring this community closer to us, we need to understand the sense of hurt that we have caused in this place and institutions of the state have caused."

He said the healing process to work would need to start at the very top.

"I think we need the Prime Minister, we need the Leader of the Opposition, we need them to stand and say 'I want to hear your story; I want to listen. Gosh, we're so sorry that we allowed this to happen for so long; please tell us your experiences and let us work together to ensure going forward that we don't allow these injustices to continue'."

Mr Walker had tabled a debate as part of the Black Mental Health UK's (BMH UK) campaign to raise awareness about the issue; it was the first time the question of black deaths in custody was the subject of an adjournment debate in Parliament.

Mr Walker, who revealed his own mental health struggles in Parliament last year, said that a death in a mental health setting, as opposed to a police environment, required an independent investigation, "one that carries the confidence of the family of the deceased and the wider community".

He said: "Let us be in no doubt at the sense of anger and frustration at the current state of play."

Calling for an end to what he described as "the culture of briefings", Mr Walker said "when someone dies in custody, the organisation that had responsibility for that individual's care and safety can go into, sort of, institutional meltdown.

"They go into a default position of getting their side of the story across and you see the names and reputation of good young men trashed in a way so that becomes the accepted narrative, because the inquest is so far away, that if we go on and paint a wholly false picture of this young man, then that will become the accepted story."

He added: "And I don't know how we do this in law, but actually, off the record unofficial briefings should be an act of gross misconduct and those that participate in them and promote them should lose their jobs."

But responding to the debate, Justice Minister Damian Green said statistics showed there were not a disproportionate number of black people dying in police custody.

He said: "The reasons for this are complex, at this stage we don't fully understand them - indeed there seems to be an over representation of black people across the whole criminal justice system.

"That's why the Ministry of Justice is currently conducting work to look more closely at the reasons for this, identifying where there is disproportionality in the system and to develop an apporpriate response to that.