Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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West Midlands custody death investigation concludes

We have completed an investigation after a man died in custody at Oldbury in the West Midlands.

Christopher Morgan, who was aged 38, was arrested by West Midlands Police on 20 September last year and taken to the Oldbury Custody Suite in Bromford Road.

He was found to be unresponsive in his cell during a routine check at 2am the following morning. Mr Morgan was pronounced dead by a doctor at the scene shortly afterwards. It was later established that he had suffered a heart attack.

A mandatory referral by the force led to us investigating the interaction between police and Mr Morgan, and considering relevant national and local policies on detention and custody.

Our investigation was completed in March and at an inquest held on 4 April the jury recorded a conclusion that Mr Morgan’s death was drug-related.

CCTV footage from the custody unit was obtained as part of our investigation which showed that Mr Morgan suffered a seizure about 30 minutes before he was found on the floor of his cell. At that time, following medical examination, he had been assessed as suitable for hourly checks, which had been carried out correctly.

However earlier during his detention he had been listed for half hourly observations. Evidence gathered by our investigator indicated that for a period of time those had only taken place every hour. We found a case to answer for misconduct for a custody officer in respect of the frequency of the observations during that period and adequate record keeping. However it was our opinion that this could be addressed through performance management and the force agreed.

IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: “Our sympathies are with Mr Morgan’s family and everyone else affected by his death.  We have a duty to investigate any death in police custody and to ensure any learning to help this challenging environment is identified.”


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