Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
IOPC re-emphasises warnings about the dangers of swallowing packages following investigation into the death of Oghene Abboh
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is re-emphasising the dangers of swallowing packages of drugs to avoid prosecution following the conclusion of an inquest into the death of Oghene Abboh.
We launched an investigation following the death of Mr Abboh on 31 March 2018, which concluded in December 2018 that no officers breached standards of professional behaviour.
Our investigation found that all the Metropolitan Police officers involved were polite, informative, respectful and courteous throughout their dealings with Mr Abboh. We have published our findings following the conclusion of an inquest into Mr Abboh’s death on Wednesday 21 August. The inquest jury returned a narrative verdit.
The officers followed correct policies, made efforts to help Mr Abboh as soon as they feared he may have swallowed drugs and continuously attempted to convince him to reveal to medical staff what he had swallowed so they could properly treat him.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said:
“The death of Mr Abboh was tragic and my thoughts are with his family, friends and all those affected.
“This death once again reveals the huge dangers in people trying to conceal illegal drugs from police by swallowing them.
“Our investigation revealed that despite officers’ best efforts both before and after Mr Abboh ingested drugs, they and the medical staff who attended him were unable to save his life.”
The 26-year-old was stopped and searched by police officers in Southwark at about 11am, 30 March 2018. During the search Mr Abboh was handcuffed in the front stack position to ensure he was as comfortable as possible.
An illegal pocket knife was found in his car and he was arrested and transported to custody.
While being booked into custody CCTV shows Mr Abboh reached to his waistband and potentially retrieved an item. CCTV later shows a white item visible in his mouth. Officers became aware an item was in his mouth. Mr Abboh was restrained and repeatedly instructed to spit the item out, but he appeared to swallow it.
An ambulance was called and he was strip searched while officers waited for it to arrive. During this time Mr Abboh was told to volunteer to medical staff if he had swallowed something as his life might be in danger. Mr Abboh denied swallowing anything.
While being transported to hospital Mr Abboh’s behaviour suddenly changed. Officers accompanying him provided details to medical staff and again asked him to tell medical staff what he had swallowed, even moving out of earshot to try and give him the confidence to do so.
Mr Abboh’s condition deteriorated, he was treated by medical staff, but sadly died the following morning.
The IOPC has previously issued a warning over the dangers of swallowing drugs when being arrested and detained by police after the deaths of Peter Jonathan and Darren Hunt in Wales.
Other cases that have resulted in individuals dying after swallowing drugs include Rashan Charles and Edir Frederico Da Costa in London, Carl Maynard in Kent, Raymond Knight in Essex and Nuno Cardoso and Leroy Medford in the Thames Valley region.
Mr Naseem added:
“We work hard with police forces to ensure officers are trained on best practice when it is suspected that a person may have swallowed an item. However, when someone chooses to swallow an item to try and hide it from the police they risk fatal consequences and this can never be a worthwhile gamble to take.”
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