Police under fire again

SUFFOLK police has come under fire for the second time in a week over its custody standards. In the latest damming report, the constabulary has been heavily criticised after a man required hospital treatment following more than 20 hours in police cells.

SUFFOLK police has come under fire for the second time in a week over its custody standards.

In the latest damming report, the constabulary has been heavily criticised after a man required hospital treatment following more than 20 hours in police cells.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found “wholesale failings” in the way the force dealt with the 36-year-old from Bury St Edmunds.

It is the second time in a week that the force has been found to have “fallen short of the standards required” in custody.

An inquest was held last week into the death of Ian Snelling, 51, who died at Felixstowe police station in September 2006 after taking an overdose of tablets shortly before being arrested.

Officers who arrested him incorrectly assumed he was drunk and put him behind bars without having asked him key questions about his condition.

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Six police officers were given internal disciplinary action following the incident and Mr Snelling's family demanded an apology from Suffolk police.

Yesterdaythe IPCC released its report following a complaint made by a 36-year-old from Bury St Edmunds who was arrested by officers in November 2006.

He was detained for more than 20 hours before becoming unwell and being transferred to hospital.

The report identified there was “a failure by Suffolk Constabulary to provide the man with basic care and ensure his safety whilst in police custody”.

Evidence showed the man was left to lie almost motionless on a cell floor for over 13 hours, with no visitor entering his cell for 10 hours, and he was never roused in accordance with national guidance during this time.

In addition, there was a failure to seek prompt medical attention for him when it was realised the man was unwell.

Len Jackson, IPCC Deputy Chair said: “It is clear from our investigation that, had the appropriate checks in custody been undertaken as per force policy and national standards, this man's conditions may not have developed or could have been identified much sooner. The manner in which he was cared for during his time in custody fell far short of the standards expected.”

At a police misconduct hearing this month, two police officers pleaded guilty to charges that their conduct failed to meet the appropriate standard and each were fined 13 days pay. Three officers received words of advice for their failures in relation to the man's detention.

One police staff member faced a civilian conduct hearing and was found guilty of failings in the care provided to the man and was issued with a final written warning.

A Suffolk police spokesman said last night. “In this case, we recognise that our standards were not acceptable and have taken positive steps to improve custody in Suffolk.”