Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Warning of the dangers of swallowing drugs during police searches

An investigation has found no indication that Metropolitan Police officers involved in the arrest and detention of 25 year old Daniel Cuffe in August 2015 had breached police professional standards.

Mr Cuffe died in hospital on 21 August 2015, two days after officers had executed a search warrant and arrested him at a residence in Cheshunt under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

On Tuesday 14 January 2020 an inquest jury determined death due to multiple organ failure including rhabdomyolysis and acute kidney failure in a patient with cocaine toxicity.

The evidence indicates that Mr Cuffe tried to stop officers from entering the building then ran to the kitchen where an officer thought he might be trying to get a weapon. Officers then handcuffed Mr Cuffe as they believed he was attempting to disrupt the search. He was then taken outside the property where he was restrained on the ground. At this point Mr Cuffe said that he had swallowed cocaine and as a result an ambulance was called.

Paramedics attended and Mr Cuffe was taken to hospital where he sadly died two days later.

We examined the circumstances surrounding Mr Cuffe’s death including the application for the warrants, the planning and preparation of the operation, the appropriateness of the restraint used against him and the care provided to him following his arrest. Our investigation concluded in November 2017.

Publication of our findings has awaited the end of this inquest.

IOPC Regional Director for London, Sal Naseem said:

“After a thorough investigation we did not find any evidence to show that the actions of police officers caused or contributed to Mr Cuffe’s death.

“The IOPC has previously emphasised the dangers of swallowing packages in an attempt to hide something from the police. Unfortunately, Mr Cuffe’s death again demonstrates how attempting to conceal drugs in this way can all too easily have tragic consequences.

“At this time our thoughts remain with Mr Cuffe’s family, friends and all of those affected by his death.”


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