Police officers are docked pay for death in custody
by 4WardEver UK
Originally published 5th February 2006
Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
Jamie Burton, 23, from Newquay, died in May 2001 after a heroin overdose. He died after being taken to the police custody centre in Newquay. An inquest jury in Launceston found drug abuse responsible for his death, contributed to by systematic neglect from the police. They found that officers could have done more to save his life.
The inquest heard Mr Burton took drugs on the evening of his death after meeting friends. He suffered a bad reaction and was taken to a car park where the emergencies services were called. Both police and ambulance personnel attending the car park gave conflicting accounts of what happened, but the police say they were not told he had taken heroin that evening.
The young man was meant to be closely observed whilst in the police cells overnight, but officers thought he was drunk, and it was found that he was not roused every 30 minutes as per police guidelines. He was found dead at 5am the next morning.
Jamie’s mother, Jane Walters, said, “It’s a pittance compared with what my family have lost” Jamie’s mother, Jayne Walters, welcomed the verdict but did not rule out further legal action against the police.
She said the police’s handling of the case was unacceptable. Her lawyer, Mark Scott, said, “The inquest found there were systemic failures by the police to follow basic, simple legal requirements designed to protect the lives of vulnerable individuals.”
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary expressed regret at what happened and, predictably, said new procedures had been put in place following the tragic death.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Pearce said, “Since Jamie’s death we have totally reviewed our systems and many recommendations have been made and have already been put into place.”Indeed, when the Avon and Somerset Constabulary carried out the review on behalf of the Police Complaints Authority, they made recommendations which have been immediately implemented.”
In January 2006 there was outrage as two Devon and Cornwall police officers were ‘disciplined’ at a police misconduct hearing, and had their pay docked 10 and 13 weeks’ respectively for neglect of duty following their role in the death.
Jamie’s mother said, “It’s a pittance compared with what my family have lost. It’s pathetic.” She added, “The only consolation is that they have been brought to account.”The inquest verdict was damning and I don’t think they would have been brought to account if we had not fought every day for the last four and a half years.”
In a brief statement, Devon and Cornwall Police said the officers pleaded guilty to breaches of force policy and were fined.
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