Barney Branston acts for Thames Valley Police in Neal Saunders Inquest

7 December 2022

A jury sitting at Reading Town Hall has concluded that Thames Valley Police officers used appropriate levels of restraint in dealing with a 39-year-old man deemed to be suffering from symptoms of Acute Behavioural Disturbance (ABD).

Officers had attended in response to an allegation of assault and were informed that NS had been using cocaine and alcohol for two days. Whilst initially calm, NS became agitated and demonstrated unusual strength when officers arrested him and attempted to apply handcuffs. NS was handcuffed and restrained by several officers as he lay on his side on the floor. Officers recognised some of the symptoms of ABD and treated it as a medical emergency, summoning an ambulance. NS was physically and verbally aggressive for sporadic periods, and struggled and resisted against the restraint, which lasted for nearly one hour. His body temperature was raised and he was sweating. Police continually monitored Neal’s condition – maintaining his airway and attempting to cool and calm him. After further communication between TVP control, the ambulance service and officers on scene, the ambulance priority was upgraded. Upon arrival, paramedics addressed his condition before he was transported from the flat to the ambulance in the prone position on a carry mat. NS remained prone in the ambulance, still handcuffed behind the back, for 14 minutes. En route to hospital, NS suffered a heart attack leading to a cardiac arrest, and whilst he rapidly responded to CPR treatment he suffered a further cardiac arrest and died later in hospital.

The jury held that it was ‘appropriate’ for TVP officers to have restrained NS for the duration of the incident as there was no safe, practicable alternative, although resistance against restraint contributed to his death. The jury also held that the degree of attention paid to NS’s positioning in the ambulance was unsatisfactory, finding that his prone position was not causative of death but may have more that minimally contributed to it.

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Authors

Barnabas Branston

Call 1999

Related areas

Police Law

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