Exclusive: Mother of County Durham man who died in a police cell ‘disgusted’ at his treatment

The mother of a County Durham man who died in a police cell has told ITV News Tyne Tees she is “disgusted” at the way Durham Constabulary officers treated him in the final hours of his life.

Jake Anderson was arrested on 24 June 2019 on suspicion of alleged assault. He had a history of mental illness, drugs and alcohol misuse.

Last week an inquest jury found that Mr Anderson, from Chester-le-Street, died due to ketoacidosis – a form of alcohol withdrawal. The jury was also critical about the treatment of Jake by officers.

It found:

Officers failed to carry out appropriate observations and documentation of checks was “unsatisfactory”

Frequency of offering refreshments was “unsatisfactory”

Communication was “inadequate” by the police surgeon when advising officers to raise the observation level to “constant.

However, the jury concluded:

Officers did act promptly when assistance was needed

No evidence to suggest the outcome would gave been different if the management of Jake had been different

Alison Anderson, Jake’s mother, said “Nobody should be treated like that and I just think in their jobs they should have a bit of respect and they had absolutely none for Jake whatsoever. Didn’t care. He was in there, contained and they couldn’t care less.

“The observations weren’t carried out properly, even on Level 2, the fact they were looking for an intensive care bed in a mental hospital says to me that he really should have been on level 3. That alone tells you Level 2 was absolutely no good for him. It just disgusts me, the whole lot disgusts me.”

Asked about the lack of refreshments offered to her son, Alison Anderson said it was a “failing” by the officers.

She said: “I just think if they managed to go to another cell and ask somebody for food and drink who was actually complaining about the food and Jake was in the cell next door, yet they couldn’t be bothered to ask him. I also feel that if he had have been given food and drink at an earlier point, he might have still been here today.”

Jake was seen on the CCTV to be lying face down on the floor motionless for 21 minutes before officers came into his cell. The inquest jury concluded when Jake was found unresponsive that assistance was sought in a prompt manner.

His mum said: “They thought he was faking consciousness. They presumed he was acting like any other detainee that had mental health issues and they’d seen someone doing that two weeks previous, so they just presumed Jake was doing the same, when in actual fact he was just gasping on for breath. I had some respect for the police before this and now I’ve got absolutely none. None whatsoever, look what they’ve done to my son.”

In a statement from Durham Constabulary, it said: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct carried out a detailed investigation into events surrounding this tragic case – and concluded that Durham Constabulary did not cause or contribute to Mr Anderson’s death – but did make a number of recommendations which we have since acted upon.

“After a five-day inquest, the jury determined there was no evidence to suggest that – if the management of Mr Anderson had been any different – that this would have had an effect on the overall outcome.”

The force said it will now take time to reflect on areas of improvement in regard to detention procedures and custody facilities, arising from the conclusions of the inquest.

No criminal proceedings have taken place, but ITV News understands from the police watchdog that two officers were given written warnings following misconduct hearings and a third received formal management advice.

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