Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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IOPC investigation finds no evidence that South Wales Police actions contributed to the death of Mohamud Hassan

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the actions of South Wales Police during the arrest and detention of Mohamud Mohamed Hassan in Cardiff found no evidence that officers caused or contributed to his death.

Following a three-week inquest in Pontypridd, the jury has returned an open outcome. Mr Hassan’s cause of death was given as unascertained. 

Our investigation followed a mandatory referral from South Wales Police in January 2021. We investigated the contact police had with Mr Hassan, including whether any force used during his arrest and detention was reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances. We also examined the level of care provided to Mr Hassan during his time in custody. Issuing our investigation findings has awaited the end of the inquest.

Police were called at around 9.30pm on 8 January 2021, to a report of a disturbance at a flat on Newport Road in Cardiff. The caller stated that five Black men had broken into the property and started fighting. At 9.40pm, eleven South Wales Police officers attended. Mr Hassan, who was the only man present, was restrained and arrested for breach of the peace. He was driven in a police van to Cardiff Bay police station and arrived just after 10pm. Mr Hassan was restrained by officers in the custody suite, before being carried to a cell and searched. He remained in a cell overnight and was then released without charge at around 8.20am on 9 January. Mr Hassan returned to the flat on Newport Road. At 10.22pm the same day, a family member made an emergency call stating that he had been found unresponsive. At 10.29pm, paramedics arrived at the property and, soon after, confirmed that Mr Hassan had died.

A post-mortem examination showed that there was no physical injury sustained by Mr Hassan to explain a cause of death. The post-mortem evidence also stated that there was no indication of the use of a Taser, or of weapons such as batons. The cause of death for Mr Hassan was given as ‘unascertained’.

IOPC Director David Ford said: “My thoughts and sympathies remain with Mr Hassan’s family, and everyone affected by his death. Our role was to examine the conduct of police officers involved, with the inquest to determine exactly how Mr Hassan died. In the aftermath of the tragedy, there was understandable public concern, and we painstakingly examined what happened during South Wales Police’s interactions with Mr Hassan. 

“This was a complex investigation, examining police contact over an extended period. We reviewed a large amount of evidence including detailed accounts from a significant number of officers involved, either directly or indirectly, with Mr Hassan, accounts from family members, police body worn video, CCTV footage, photographs, police radio transmissions and call logs. Investigators examined the police cell in which Mr Hassan was detained and visited the property on Newport Road, to view the scene of his arrest and secure relevant evidence.

“Whilst we identified some areas of learning for South Wales Police and for individuals arising from the events, and a case to answer for one officer for use of force, we found no evidence that the actions of police officers had contributed to Mr Hassan’s sad death. 

“After our investigation was completed, we provided Mr Hassan’s family with the detail of our findings and submitted our report to the coroner to assist with the inquest.”  

Following the end of our investigation in July 2022, we decided that a police sergeant had a disciplinary case to answer for gross misconduct over the force used in the custody suite at Cardiff Bay. The allegation was found not proven at a disciplinary hearing in November last year, which was led by an Independent Legally Qualified Chair. 

In relation to other officers we had served notices on during our investigation, we found one police constable had a case to answer for misconduct over information relevant to Mr Hassan’s welfare potentially not being communicated to custody staff. At a misconduct meeting in December 2023, the officer was given an 18-month written warning. We found no case to answer for any other officers involved but recommended that a custody officer and a police constable be required to take part in the reflective practice review process. This was to reflect on the adequacy of welfare checks they carried out while Mr Hassan was in custody.

Our investigation also considered a complaint from Mr Hassan’s family about whether his ethnicity impacted on how he was treated by officers. There was evidence that Mr Hassan may have felt discriminated against, and that he voiced that belief to officers while in custody. He later alleged to family members that he had been assaulted by officers. Investigators scrutinised body worn video, custody footage, public and private CCTV, and reviewed audio recordings. We also took witness statements from police officers and members of the public to check for any act or omission which might have suggested direct or indirect discrimination or unconscious bias towards Mr Hassan by South Wales Police. 

The evidence did not support the assertion that Mr Hassan was treated less favourably by officers because of his race, or that he had been assaulted by officers. However, we did determine that there was an overall lack of respect and care in the way some officers treated Mr Hassan during his arrest, transport and detention. We recommended that the force should reflect upon each stage of the police interaction with Mr Hassan, from the first point of contact through to his release from custody, and the cumulative effect of each officer’s interaction with him.

Areas of learning identified for South Wales Police included: 

  • The safe management of potentially vulnerable detainees in custody - Mr Hassan’s time from arrest, transportation to custody, his stay in detention and monitoring in the cell, through to his release from custody revealed that a large number of individuals had contact with Mr Hassan and the level of service provided to him varied considerably. In some instances, it fell below the standard required. This could lead to public concern in respect of the way young Black men are treated in custody by the force. 
  • Improved training for Custody Detention Officers (CDOs) - The CDOs who completed the cell visits to Mr Hassan did not always enter the cell in accordance with the requirements for rousing detainees who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We recommended further detail should be provided in training materials for CDOs to ensure the correct practice of carrying out cell visits is followed. 
  • Maintenance of custody CCTV equipment and securing all relevant CCTV footage - Part of the CCTV equipment in the custody suite was broken which may have led to the potential loss of evidence. In addition, footage of the arresting officers speaking to the sergeant at the custody desk after Mr Hassan had been taken to his cell was not secured. This could have also caused what may have been significant evidence to be lost. 

South Wales Police has since advised us that our learning recommendations have been accepted and implemented in full by the force. 

Channel website: https://policeconduct.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/news/iopc-investigation-finds-no-evidence-south-wales-police-actions-contributed-death-mohamud

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