Vulnerable man dies after police restraint
from various sources – October 2017
submitted by – Danielle Roberts
Updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item
Darren Neville, aged 28 years old, died on the 5 May 2013 after being restrained by police following a mental breakdown. Darren lived in a hostel in Aberdeen Park, Islington, where he was being treated for an acute behavioural disorder.
The staff at the hostel called the police as Darren was exhibiting unusual behaviour. They stated that his behaviour became aggressive as he was banging doors and walls trying to get out of the facility. The staff were said to be frightened by the behaviour which ultimately resulted in Darren throwing himself through the front glass door which led to deep cuts all over his body.
Eye witnesses who saw the incident said that they saw a man sitting on a wall in just his boxer shorts that had blood on them. When the police arrived at the scene, they immediately tackled Darren who was running around in his underwear. He was then restrained by the officers. As result of the restraint by the officers, Darren suffered cardiac arrest and was transferred to Whittington Hospital. During Darren’s stay at the hospital he slipped into a coma and tragically died two months later.
Due to the way that Darren died there was inquest into his death. At the inquest it was found by the jury that restraint played a role in his death. The Coroner Mary Hassell stated that the police; “did not give sufficient consideration to the risks associated with prolonged restraint to a person suffering with this condition, more specifically the risk of death following prolonged restraint”.
The inquest ruled that the police needed extra training in dealing with individuals who have mental illnesses as it is the police who often encounter these individuals in the first instance. There is a well-known correlation between mental illness and those who die in police custody, and police officers need to understand the risks when they restrain individuals and the devastating effects that the risks can have.
The family barrister commented saying; “Avoidable deaths under or following police restraint will continue unless officers place a much greater emphasis on the vital importance of avoiding restraint if at all possible when encountering someone suffering from an acute behavioural disturbance. Restraint must be a matter of last resort and not an action by default”.
As well as suffering from mental health issues, Darren had a history of cocaine abuse that over time had put a lot of strain on his heart. Also, at the time of the arrest he also had cocaine in his system. Despite this, Darren was trying to get his life back on-track having undertaken a trainee plasterer course and was staying at a half-way house for ex-offenders.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had completed the investigation into the Darren’s death. As a result of the inquest the family believed that the IPCC failed to pick on critical issues in their review. For example, the IPCC never stated that the restraint was a key role in Darren’s death. The family even met with the IPCC to state the concerns that they had regarding the investigation, but nothing came of this.
The IPCC conclusion in Darren’s case was; “We did not find evidence that police acted in a way that was unlawful or breached professional standards”. Yet at the inquest, the officers were found to have played a role in the tragic death of Darren.
There have been similar problems in the past regarding the IPCC as there was a very similar situation that occurred with the Sean Rigg case. The investigation completed by the IPCC was flawed just as Darren’s was. Sean’s sister Marcia Rigg said; “There’s never been accountability. This is something that has been happening for decades. Get the ex-police officers out of the front of the investigation”.
IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers said although police expertise will always be needed, the organisation is “increasing the diversity” of its staff. “We are pleased that the government has accepted the need for change, and legislation is currently before parliament.”
Darren death: ‘Officers escalated the situation’
1 December 2017