Misconduct proven against police officers after man hit his head in custody and died

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 October 2017

Avon and Somerset Constabulary will introduce spit guards in January 2018.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary will introduce spit guards in January 2018.

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The actions of three police officers when a Burnham-on-Sea man hit his head in custody and later died amounted to misconduct, it has been decided.

David Fournier D’Albe was arrested in December 2014 in connection with a fire in Burnham. He was later charged for being drunk and disorderly and was remanded in custody in Bridgwater.

While in the holding cell, he fell and suffered a minor head injury, but the three officers were alleged not to have informed custody staff or medical professionals about the incident.

They also did not record the injury and use of force.

Mr Fournier D’Albe died from natural causes not related to the head injury, but it was decided at a misconduct hearing that the officers should have followed procedure in recording what happened.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson said: “I’d firstly like to renew our heartfelt sympathies to the family of David Fournier D’Albe for their tragic loss.

“These misconduct proceedings resulted from an investigation carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and focussed on how duties and responsibilities were carried out following Mr Fournier D’Albe’s arrest and subsequent detention in custody.

“We fully respect the findings of the panel, led by an independent Legally Qualified Chair.

“We have comprehensive policies and procedures in place governing how we deal with people detained in our custody centres, all of which adhere to the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice.

“Following this incident, we’ve continued to provide training, guidance and facilities that prioritise the safety of people in custody.

“The training provided has included information to assist officers and staff in conducting effective risk assessments for people in custody and how to identify and respond to detainee vulnerabilities.

“Independent custody visitors regularly visit our force custody centres as part of our aim of being as open and transparent as possible. They are able to observe, comment and report on conditions of people who have been detained and are authorised to check on their welfare and custodial arrangements.”

PCs Nick White, Stephen Brawley and Ian Bartlett will not face any sanctions. A further hearing into Sergeant Ian Flower began on Tuesday.

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