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Force criticised for custody processes following mans death

Darren Lyons died in 2014 with both the IPCC and an inquest finding fault in the forces policies

A force has been criticised for failing to correctly follow custody processes and policies after a man collapsed in a cell and died.

Darren Lyons, 43, was arrested by armed officers at his home in Kidsgrove in January 2014 after allegedly making threats to shoot or stab visitors to the property.

Later that day, he was found unresponsive in his cell at the Northern Area Custody Facility in Stoke-on-Trent and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead three days later.

An investigation by the IPCC found that two custody sergeants had a case to answer for misconduct, one for failing to properly assess and manage the health risk to Mr Lyons and the other for failing to conduct an appropriate risk assessment after accepting a handover.

Staffordshire Police gave them management advice and a written warning respectively after finding the misconduct cases against them proven.

A custody detention officer was also found to have a case to answer over the conduct of cell checks and the accuracy of record-keeping and he was issued with advice after attending a misconduct meeting.

At the inquest into his death last week, the jury concluded Mr Lyons died from a combination of medical conditions including heart disease but criticised the way police observations were carried out, the standard of handover information and the service Mr Lyons received while in custody from healthcare professionals.

Darren’s mother Diane Aqeel said her faith in the police had been “completely shattered”.

“I truly believed Darren was safe and would receive the medical help he needed.  It is vile to think about how he was left to die, naked and covered in his own faeces on a cell floor. No dignity, no care, nothing.

“They treated him worse than a dog. His death and the actions of Staffordshire Police have knocked everything out of me.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST who has been working with Mr Lyons’ family, said: “Over seven hours, barely moving on his cell floor, Darren Lyons’ urgent need for help was ignored at every stage.

“This is the second death at the same police station exposing wholescale failure by Staffordshire Police, G4S and Primecare to apply the longstanding national framework for the care and welfare of vulnerable individuals held in police custody. 

Action must be taken to hold the force to account for such gross failures of basic policing standards towards a man so clearly physically and mentally unwell.