source: BBC News
published: 15 June 2022
A police force has apologised to the family of a man who died in custody after taking heroin in his cell. Officers at a police station in Reading failed to find the drugs Leroy Junior Medford, 43, had hidden.
In a letter to his family, Thames Valley Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg described his death in April 2017 as tragic and avoidable. He also acknowledged the force breached Mr Medford’s human rights and those of his family.
Mr Hogg wrote that Thames Valley Police apologised both for this and the “grief and distress that this has caused Junior’s children and siblings”.
Mr Medford, who was known to his family as Junior, was arrested on suspicion of assault and taken to Loddon Valley police station in Berkshire.
Officers were told he had concealed drugs inside his body. He was strip-searched and taken to hospital for a scan but nothing was found. There was a third search when he returned to the police station.
In 2019, an inquest heard how two officers were required to observe him constantly in his cell but that they were not aware this meant one of them should be within the cell. They interpreted it as observing Mr Medford from the cell door.
CCTV showed him removing a package from inside his trousers and swallowing it. The officers did not witness the act.
The heroin he ingested proved fatal and he later collapsed and died. Mr Medford was a father of eight and had eight siblings.