Family's agonising wait for answers

NINE months after a Felixstowe man died in police custody, investigators have still not reached a conclusion on what happened.While Ian Snelling's family waits for answers, it could still be some time yet before they have them.

NINE months after a Felixstowe man died in police custody, investigators have still not reached a conclusion on what happened.

While Ian Snelling's family waits for answers, it could still be some time yet before they have them.

Investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) this week released details of a report into the death of Matty Hedley at Gateshead police station - 17 months after he died.

Officials say the process is not quick and needs to be done as thoroughly as possible to ensure that police officers involved in any incident acted in the correct manner and also to establish whether there are any lessons to be learned.

They have to work closely with the coroner, commanding officers of police officers involved, and the families.

Officers from Norfolk police have been tasked by the IPCC to examine how Mr Snelling died after being arrested at the VK1 off licence in Undercliff Road West, Felixstowe, on September 1 last year.

Most Read

Police were called to the shop after an allegation of shoplifting. Mr Snelling was taken ill while at the police station and died in a cell.

The family were only able to have a funeral for Mr Snelling, 51, of Manwick Road, Felixstowe, at the end of January.

The length of the inquiry has left his grieving family frustrated as they wait to hear an explanation of how he died.

The IPCC says investigations into deaths in police custody usually take six months to a year.

At the end of the inquiry, a report will be produced which will be discussed with senior officers of the Suffolk force, police officers at Felixstowe, and Mr Snelling's family.

The report will not be released to the public, though a statement giving a summary of its findings will be issued.

A spokesman for the IPCC said: “The investigation is still ongoing but officers have finalised the interviews although they still have a lot of work to do on the information gathered and then writing the report.

“Although it is difficult to give a timescale, I think we are still talking about a matter of several months.”

Do you think it is right the family has had to wait this long? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

The IPCC is the body with overall responsibility for the police complaints system. Since April 2006 it has taken on responsibility for similar, serious complaints against HM Revenue and Customs and the Serious Organised Crime Agency in England and Wales.

Its task is to increase public confidence in the complaint systems and aims to make investigations more open, timely, proportionate and fair.

The 17 commissioners who run the IPCC guarantee its independence and by law can never have served as police officers, or for HM Revenue and Customs. They are supported by 100 independent IPCC investigators, as well as case workers and specialist support staff.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter