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Suffolk Police "copied and pasted" detainee records lead to change in cell observation practices after seizure case




Suffolk Constabulary has been told to make changes to its custody practices after repeatedly recording that a detainee was in his cell – when he was in hospital.

The recommendation came after the man was recorded as having been checked in his cell numerous times, despite the fact that he was undergoing hospital treatment after suffering a seizure while in police custody.

In a review by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the error was due to “detainee records being copied and pasted”.

Suffolk Constabulary has been told to make changes to its custody practices after repeatedly recording that a detainee was in his cell – when he was in hospital
Suffolk Constabulary has been told to make changes to its custody practices after repeatedly recording that a detainee was in his cell – when he was in hospital

The inconsistencies in the entries were only discovered when police records were examined after the man, who had presented as suffering from mental health problems, suffered a seizure while in a cell.

The review stated: “The observation records on a number of occasions implied that the detainee was checked in his cell and found to be present and either asleep or awake.

“In fact, these entries were incorrect as the detainee was, at that point, no longer in the custody suite as he had been taken to hospital.”

According to the findings, this was not an isolated incident, as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services had identified the same problem during an inspection of Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies in May 2018.

The IOPC recommended that Suffolk Police ensures that all custody officers and staff are reminded of the importance of accurate custody entries and are made aware of any change to force practices.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “We acknowledge the recommendation made by the IOPC. The practice of multi cell checks has ended, and monthly auditing meetings are held to assess the compliance with this decision.

“All staff are aware of the role they have to play in ensuring data is managed and shared appropriately.”

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