Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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IPCC investigating ‘near miss’ at Medway custody suite

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating a ‘near miss’ at Medway custody suite.

Kent Police has informed the IPCC that on 11 July 2013, two officers were called to attend an address where a 40-year-old man was believed to have taken a suspected overdose. Paramedics also attended the property and provided medical treatment. The man refused to be taken to hospital and following inquiries by the officers, the man was arrested for offences reported earlier that day and was taken into custody.

The IPCC has been told that on his arrival at Medway custody suite at 5.10pm the custody sergeant was informed that the man had taken a suspected overdose and had mental health issues. The man was placed in a cell and, according to police records, he was later found to have tied a t-shirt around his neck, blue in the face and not breathing. The t-shirt was removed and the IPCC understands he was later taken to Medway Hospital where he was declared fit for detention and interview and was returned to custody.

On 12 July, the man was interviewed, charged and released on bail at 4.25pm.

On 13 July following reports of concern for his welfare, the IPCC has been told that officers attended at his home and found the man unwell. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and has since been released from the intensive care unit to a separate ward where he remains as a voluntary patient on a mental health ward.

Kent Police referred the matter on 15 July and the IPCC determined that it will independently investigate.

IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said:

“IPCC investigators have met with the man to explain our role and outline the investigation which is examining the decision to convey him to police custody rather than hospital after the initial arrest and the care he received at Medway custody suite.

“This will focus on the actions taken and decisions made by the arresting officers and custody staff in their dealings with the man and the circumstances of his release and the pre-release risk assessment.

“Actions and decisions taken in relation to the man’s mental health and the disclosure of a prior overdose are also being examined. 

“The IPCC is also considering whether Kent Police’s policies and procedures in relation to policing mental health, detention in custody and any other relevant procedures were followed.”

Kent Police referred the matter two days after the man was taken to hospital and this delay also forms part of the investigation.

For media queries please contact the IPCC press office on 0207 166 3134.

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