originally by: BBC News
18th May 2011
Failures by custody staff at Bath police station contributed directly to the death of a man found drunk in the street, an inquest has found. Mark Graeme Read, 39, who was taken into custody for his own safety, choked to death on his own vomit. The jury at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court returned a verdict of accidental death contributed to by neglect. Avon and Somerset Police said it had now implemented recommendations for improving its custody practice.
Mr Read, from Frome, in Somerset, had been out celebrating the birth of his seven-week-old daughter when he was arrested for being drunk in 2008.
The jury had heard how, crucially, Mr Read was left lying on his back to sleep off his night out, not on his side in the recovery position.
During the inquest, police admitted detention officer Gary Hancock had not been given training on how to deal with intoxicated prisoners. In its narrative verdict, the jury said that the police had a duty of care to Mr Read but he had not been properly taken care of. Failures by the police contributed directly to Mr Read’s death, the jury said.
A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has also criticised the force. It questioned the way custody suites were run and highlights a lax attitude towards people who are drunk.