Suicidal man “failed” by Dyfed-Powys Police

Dyfed-Powys Police failed a man who twice tried to kill himself while in custody, according to a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). 

Apr 4, 2019
By Tony Thompson
Dyfed-Powys Police T/Assistant Chief Constable Vicki Evans

The man, whose identity has not been released, was arrested in June 2017 on suspicion of threats to cause criminal damage and was kept in the Ammanford custody suite. During a risk assessment while he was in custody, the man disclosed he had made a number of attempts to kill himself over the past few weeks and suffered from depression and anxiety. 

The IOPC said: “The custody sergeant recommended that the man be provided with an anti-harm suit. However, custody CCTV footage indicates that no suit was provided. Within an hour of being detained, the man was found collapsed and unresponsive in a cell and was taken to hospital for assessment. 

“When he returned to custody, the man disclosed to the custody nurse that he had made comments about killing himself in order to get himself released from custody more quickly.” 

The following day, the man was given access to the exercise yard and his hooded top and trainers were returned to him.  At approximately 3.42pm, he was found collapsed in the exercise yard, having tied his shoelaces and the cord from his top around his neck. He was assessed by paramedics and made a full recovery. 

The IOPC investigation identified “a failure in the overall care provided to the detainee and performance issues for five officers.” But there was no indication that any officers involved “might have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.” 

Dyfed-Powys Police said it would deal with the performance issues of the five officers through management action by a senior officer. This will include an in-depth discussion of the investigation report and its findings so that officers can reflect on the incident and learn from it moving forward. 

The force said it had also identified opportunities for organisational learning, which would be passed on to the chief inspector for custody.  

Dyfed-Powys Police T/Assistant Chief Constable Vicki Evans said safeguarding the public was a priority for the force and that they deeply regretted it when anyone came to harm during or following police contact. 

She added: “The force has fully cooperated with the IOPC investigation since June 2017 and acknowledges their conclusion. We are committed to making improvements to the way we do things; appropriate management action has been taken with the officers involved and we will give careful consideration to how we can maximise this opportunity to learn lessons.” 

 

 

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