Increase in the number of persons who have been brought unnecessarily into custody whilst heavily under the influence of alcohol, drugs and other intoxicants.
Amendments have been made to the Force Policy/Procedure on drunk and incapable to bring them up to date. A lessons learned bulletin was circulated Force wide and published on the force intranet site, providing guidance on how to deal with persons who present in such a way.
Medical attention provided to persons who present as drunk and incapable at the earliest opportunity. Prevent/reduce the risk of deaths in custody.
There was an increase in the number of persons brought unnecessarily into custody whilst heavily under the influence of alcohol, drugs and other intoxicants.
CCTV within custody suites has shown that these individuals have been:
- Unable to either walk unaided or stand unaided and have been unaware of their own actions, or unable to fully understand what has been said to them.
Persons who present in this condition should be treated in hospital rather than taken to a custody suite. The medical services at a Police Station are not equipped to provide the extensive care such detainees require.
Where a police officer/PCSO deals with a person who is drunk and incapable and/or heavily under the influence of drugs or intoxicants they will:
- Administer first aid where appropriate, in accordance with their training.
- Request the attendance of an ambulance to enable a medical assessment of the person to take place.
Where a person has declined or has been refused treatment this does not absolve the police or medical services of their responsibility. A dynamic risk assessment should be carried out taking into account all of the given circumstances. Officers should have an understanding of the drunk and incapable protocol between Northumbria Police and the North East Ambulance Service which will assist in the decision making process.
However, arrest and detention at a custody suite should only occur in exceptional circumstances as appropriate medical treatment is delayed and increases the risk to all parties.
In instances where detainees are drunk/under the influence of drugs but are not deemed to be ‘incapable’, officers need to be confident that the person is fit to be transported to a custody suite and monitor their condition throughout the journey.
It is important to understand that a person who presents as being drunk and disorderly may in fact have another medical condition. Further information can be found on the College of Policing APP Guidance on Detention and Custody: Alcohol and Drugs.
Any person with a head injury or open wound which requires medical attention should go directly to hospital for treatment.
Update July 2018:
Further cases were referred to Professional Standards Department (PSD) where it was evident that persons deemed incapable through drink and/or drugs were still being arrested, transported and presented in custody.
A Bulletin was sent out to front line officers on 6 July 2018 in relation to this issue.
A video was compiled by Learning and Development Department with the assistance from the Head of the Custody Unit and this was sent out to all front line officers to view.
Embed the message sent out in previous bulletins, informing officers that persons presenting as such need to be taken straight to hospital.
Prevent/reduce the number of Death and Serious Injury (DSI) incidents within Custody.