IPCC recommends improvements after woman held at Stevenage police station takes concealed ‘medication’ three times while under arrest

A woman held at Stevenage police station ended up in hospital after she took concealed medication th

A woman held at Stevenage police station ended up in hospital after she took concealed medication three times while under arrest and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has recommended reforms to make sure it doesnt happen again. - Credit: Archant

A woman held at Stevenage police station ended up in hospital after she took concealed ‘medication’ three times while under arrest – and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has recommended reforms to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The IPCC also criticised the Herts force for taking five days to report the scare, not stopping officers from using personal mobile phones while on duty, and not having clear procedures for handling detainees.

The incident happened after the woman was arrested along with two men at her home in January last year on suspicion of shoplifting.

The woman took a tablet she told the arresting officers was ‘medication’.

CCTV records showed that while in a police holding bay at Stevenage she took another pill from her bag and also passed a tablet to one of the men. She took another pill 20 minutes later, while unsupervised in a different holding area.


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She was placed in a cell, but then taken to hospital after she became unwell. She was taken back into custody the same day and five days later the force referred the matter to the IPCC as a ‘death or serious injury’ incident.

The IPCC reported misconduct by two officers – who it said had not handled the detainees properly, not informed the custody sergeant that they had taken pills, and used personal mobile phones when they were supposed to be supervising those in custody.

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IPCC associate commissioner Guido Liguori said: “While in this instance the woman made a full recovery, similar failings could potentially lead to more tragic consequences.

“Officers and staff need to be vigilant when arresting suspects, and conduct timely searches to ensure illicit medication or drugs are not able to be consumed after arrest or in custody.”

A police spokeswoman said: “We accept the recommendations contained within the report and will be implementing them fully.

“Revised guidance will be issued to staff to reinforce recommendations.”

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