Investigation rejects allegations that police denied assistance to disabled man

Published Date: Dec 2016

A Police Ombudsman investigation has rejected claims a disabled man was not any given food or drink and denied assistance while in police custody in Co. Fermanagh in August.

The man alleged he was forced to urinate in the cell as no one answered when he shouted for help with using the toilet.

He also claimed that he had been placed in a cell with a makeshift bed, and said police had reneged on a promise to leave him home after his detention.

In addition, he said he suffered a panic attack after an “annoyed” police employee slammed shut the door of his cell.

A Police Ombudsman investigator reviewed CCTV footage which showed that the man had been placed in a standard police cell with a raised bed and a toilet.

He was seen to refuse the offer of a cup of tea after being placed in the cell, and at no stage during the remainder of his four hour detention requested any food or drink.

In addition, about an hour and 20 minutes after being placed in the cell, the man was told by officers that he was to be moved to another cell with a more comfortable mattress.

Man was abusive when officers tried to move him to a more comfortable cell.

However, he was abusive to the officers, refused to move and the officers then left. Three minutes later, the man rolled onto his side and urinated on the floor.

He did not ask the officers for assistance while they were in the cell, or call out for help after they had left.

The CCTV footage also recorded that a change in the man’s breathing occurred more than an hour after the door of the cell had been closed after he refused to move to another cell.

An officer then went to the man’s cell and asked if he wanted to see a doctor. He received no response but stayed outside the cell and monitored the situation.

Police records also showed that police decided not to take the man home given his behaviour during his time in custody. The officer who made the decision said the man had a mobile phone and enough money to organise his own transport.

The Police Ombudsman investigator, who closed each of the man’s allegations as unsubstantiated, said: “The evidence clearly shows that police fulfilled the duty of care required of them during the man’s detention.”

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