Independent Police Complaints Commission
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IPCC investigating death of woman in custody in Bloxwich

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into the actions of West Midlands police following the death of Ms Sharmila Ullah in custody.

Ms Ullah, aged 30, was arrested on 9 July 2014 and taken to Bloxwich Custody Suite. During the initial period of her detention, it became apparent that Ms Ullah was in need of medical attention. An ambulance was called and Ms Ullah was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital.

On the morning of 10 July, Ms Ullah was returned to custody having been discharged from the hospital. She was examined by a doctor at the custody suite shortly after her return from hospital and certified as fit to detain. She was further examined by a nurse in the custody suite but approximately an hour later custody staff found Ms Ullah unresponsive in her cell and she was removed to hospital by ambulance. She was pronounced dead at 12:44 pm that afternoon.

West Midlands Police referred the matter to the IPCC on a mandatory basis and our investigation will look at the actions of police officers and staff members prior to the death of Ms Ullah. Initial statements have been taken and the investigation will consider what knowledge any health care professionals examining Ms Ullah at Bloxwich Custody Suite following her return from Walsall Manor Hospital on 10 July had of the medical assessment provided by the hospital upon her discharge, and to what extent that assessment informed their decision making. 

The IPCC has already secured CCTV from the custody suite and the hospital and begun reviewing the content and will be looking to interview custody and medical staff.

A post-mortem has taken place and a cause of death is currently undetermined. HM Coroner has also been informed.

IPCC Commissioner Derrick Campbell said:

“Any death in custody is a tragedy, and we have begun an independent investigation to establish exactly what happened.

“Our family liaison managers have made contact with Ms Ullah’s family, and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time. I would like to assure them we will be conducting a thorough investigation into her contact with police after she was arrested and the communication between police officers and medical staff during the time she spent in custody.”

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