Police rapped over death of West Norfolk man in ditch
More should have been done for a man who was found dead in a ditch after being released from police custody in West Norfolk, a report has found.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says a custody sergeant working at the Saddlebow Police Investigation Centre (PIC) could have been found guilty of misconduct over the case last summer.
Norfolk Police said “appropriate advice” had been given to the officer concerned.
The case relates to the death of a man whose body was found in a ditch off Saddlebow Road on July 24 last year.
The IOPC report said the man had been detained two days earlier, on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and taken to the PIC.
Prior to his release on the morning of July 23, the man told a liaison practitioner he had epilepsy and had not had access to medication.
After being released from custody to get a bus home, the report said CCTV footage appeared to show the man collapsed and fell into the ditch.
It added: “Evidence indicated that the custody sergeant did not appear to have acted on any of the ‘red flags’ relating to the man’s epilepsy and on his Police National Computer and custody records.
“Based on the evidence available, we were of the opinion that a reasonable tribunal, properly directed, could find misconduct for the custody sergeant, and that their acts and/or omissions should be considered at a misconduct meeting.”
The sergeant was given management advice at the subsequent misconduct meeting.
Although the investigation was completed in January, the IOPC said it had delayed publishing its findings until now, so an inquest could take place.
Norfolk Police said in a statement that the case had been immediately referred to the IOPC once it happened.
They added: “This was a tragic case and our thoughts remain with the man’s family and friends.
“We believe this to be an isolated incident which at the inquest held in August, was found not to be the fault of any individual officer or the constabulary.
“While we have every confidence in the processes we follow in custody for people with physical and mental health needs, appropriate advice was provided to the officer.
“The man’s death was linked to pre-existing medical conditions which staff in custody were aware of during the period of his detention and, whilst another review by a healthcare practitioner could have been requested before his release, the man could not have been legally detained any longer to allow this to happen and was under no obligation to accept the support.”