Staffordshire custody procedures not fully followed before man’s death

Some procedures and policies were not followed by Staffordshire Police before a man in custody became unresponsive in his cell and later died, a watchdog has found.

But the IOPC concluded overall that there was no evidence to suggest that the actions of police caused or contributed to the death of Ian Dyche.

Mr Dyche, who was 35, was arrested where he lived in Cannock late on April 29 2018 and detained at the Watling Street Custody Facility in Gailey.

He was found to be unresponsive during a medical check in his cell at around 7.45am the following morning. An ambulance took him to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton where he died on May 8.

An inquest which finished yesterday gave the cause of death as paracetamol induced liver failure and the coroner concluded that Mr Dyche had died by suicide while mentally unwell.

Evidence the IOPC gathered indicated that despite Mr Dyche appearing to have taken drugs or to have mental health problems, there was no immediate medical examination. This was contrary to force custody policy and procedure, as was the fact that although he was placed under observation he was not regularly roused.

The IOPC found that two custody sergeants had a case to answer for misconduct in respect of these breaches. The force agreed and after the cases were proven, the officers received management advice.

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “I would again like to extend my sympathies to Mr Dyche’s family and everyone else affected by his death.

“When someone dies in such circumstances it is important for public reassurance that police actions are scrutinised. While we did not find that anything officers did had a bearing on Mr Dyche’s death, there were some departures from policy and issues identified around the quality of cell checks that were carried out.”

While the IOPC found that three custody detention officers had no case to answer for misconduct, the force agreed that they should receive management action in the form of refresher training around the duration of cell checks and positive communication with detainees.

Four days before Mr Dyche was arrested, a text was sent from his mobile to a PC saying he had consumed an excessive amount of medication. The officer stated that the first time he saw it was on 2 May after Mr Dyche was admitted to hospital and our enquiries found no evidence to support an allegation that he had provided an inaccurate or misleading account in relation to that.

During the IOPC’s independent investigation, which followed a referral from Staffordshire Police, they reviewed CCTV footage from the custody facility and body worn video from the arresting officers. They studied relevant force and national policies, examined mobile phone records and took statements from the officers under investigation and witnesses. The final report was completed in April 2019.

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