Officers accused of neglecting man

TWO Suffolk police officers have appeared before magistrates accused of failing to take proper care of a man who was taken to hospital after a spell in cells.

TWO Suffolk police officers have appeared before magistrates accused of failing to take proper care of a man who was taken to hospital after a spell in cells.

Sgt Nigel Mead, 50, and Sgt Mark Turner, 43, did not enter pleas to charges of wilfully neglecting their duty as custody sergeants to ensure the welfare of a person in their charge. The incident happened in the Bury St Edmunds area and has been reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

District judge Robert Browning, sitting at Norwich Magistrates' Court, upheld his own decision to impose reporting restrictions preventing the press from reporting either officer's address.

This had come following a submission by the Police Federation, which represents the rank and file, expressing concerns over their safety.


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The Evening Star's sister paper the Eastern Daily Press had argued that the order was contrary to legislation and case law. It was said police officers should be treated the same as all members of the public whose addresses become a matter of public record the moment they appear before a court charged with an offence.

The gagging order imposed under the Contempt of Court Act should not be used to protect the “comfort or feelings” of defendants but to ensure the case can proceed unhindered, it was claimed.

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Judge Browning insisted he was using the restrictions - originally intended by parliament to protect those connected to blackmail cases or individuals involved in national security - were being used to guarantee the administration of justice.

He said: “There is a serious risk that members of the criminal community will target these officers and their families. I am not making this order to protect the comfort of the individual officers but to ensure the smooth running of this case and avoid the intimidation of witnesses.”

The men, employed by Suffolk police, were charged after a 36-year-old man arrested on suspicion of theft was sent to hospital for medical treatment. The officers are currently on non-operational duties.

Both officers were released on bail to await a hearing at Norwich Crown Court on November 21.

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