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Police custody worker disciplined after suicide bid

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 04/11/2016

A man has been hospitalised after being attacked by two men in Londonderry in the early hours of Sunday
A man has been hospitalised after being attacked by two men in Londonderry in the early hours of Sunday

A police civilian detention officer has been disciplined after an investigation found failings in the care provided to a man with mental health issues.

The case relates to issues which arose while the man was detained in custody in Co Tyrone in May last year.

The man, who had previously attempted to take his own life while in custody, used his shoelaces in a bid to cause self-harm after the detention officer forgot to remove his footwear.

Enquiries by Police Ombudsman investigators showed the officer and a police custody officer were both aware of a record on a police computer system that the man had tried to take his own life in custody four years earlier.

His shoes had been taken from him when he was initially brought into custody, but the detention officer forgot to remove them again when he returned to his cell after being interviewed.

The investigation also found that the man was not kept under adequate observation during his time in custody, given the record about his previous suicide attempt. A review of CCTV footage showed the man had been under the blankets on his bed for almost an hour, moving his hands in the area around his feet, before falling off the bed and onto the cell floor.

Custody staff provided first aid and paramedics attended, but the man was not seriously injured and did not require hospital treatment.

CCTV footage also revealed that the civilian detention officer had sworn at the man before he was taken to his cell.

He and the custody officer were also found to have made inappropriate comments of a homophobic and sexual nature during a conversation when nobody else was around.

The PSNI has since implemented a Police Ombudsman recommendation that the civilian detention officer should be disciplined.

The police custody officer had been scheduled to retire for some time prior to the incident.

Although the Police Ombudsman concluded the actions warranted disciplinary sanctions, no action could be taken against him as he retired before the conclusion of the investigation.

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