Independent Police Complaints Commission
IPCC findings after death of man detained by West Midlands Police
The IPCC has completed its investigation into circumstances surrounding the death of Mark Yafai who took cocaine and later became ill following his arrest by West Midlands Police.
Mr Yafai, aged 27 and from Birmingham, was taken into custody at Coventry Central Police Station at around 4.30am on July 1, 2015, after his arrest in connection with a disturbance. After becoming unwell he was taken to hospital just after 6.30am and died there a short time later.
An inquest which concluded at Coventry Crown Court recently (Monday, 31 October) gave the cause of death as drug related.
The force agreed with the conclusions of the IPCC’s investigation and determined that the Custody Sergeant who booked in Mr Yafai had a case to answer for misconduct for failing to ensure he was medically examined after he divulged that he had taken the drug.
In accordance with policy the officer should also have placed him on a higher level of observation – although more regular checks were in fact carried out by another officer in the custody suite using her own discretion.
The force decided that the Custody Sergeant should face management action in the form of advice from a senior officer, including a focus on the Alcohol and Drugs section of the Custody Detention Policy.
As part of the IPCC’s independent investigation a doctor’s report stated that as Mr Yafai did not appear on CCTV to be under the influence of drugs while being booked into custody, any medical intervention would likely have consisted of observation and therefore would probably not have changed the outcome.
The IPCC investigator’s conclusions included a recommendation to the force that observation levels should be detailed in custody record risk assessments, which did not happen in Mr Yafai’s case.
IPCC Commissioner, Derrick Campbell, said: “I would again send my condolences to Mr Yafai’s family at this difficult time for them. This was a case where a young man died following contact with the police so it was important for us to conduct a thorough independent investigation, which we have done.
“Although it appears little could have been done that would have prevented Mr Yafai’s death our investigation highlighted some important lessons and has also brought sharply into focus the duty of care and responsibility officers have to people in their custody.”
The IPCC’s investigation, following a referral from West Midlands Police, examined Mr Yafai’s arrest and detention and the care and treatment he received while detained. It considered medical evidence, CCTV footage and accounts from officers and other witnesses.
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