25th October 2019

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine describes Acute Behavioural Disorder (ABD) as the “sudden onset of aggressive and violent behaviour.” Recent cases demonstrate that most public authorities are ill-equipped to deal with cases of ABD.

On 11 April 2017, Doug Oak was suffering from Acute Behavioural Disorder. This condition caused him to act erratically; for example, neighbours described him shouting for help, appearing to hallucinate and being very paranoid. Dorset Police were called to the scene and Mr Oak was physically restrained by Police Officers, he was handcuffed, and his legs were strapped together. An ambulance was called but due to confusion over what ABD was, it did not arrive until an hour after Mr Oak had been restrained. Mr Oak was taken to hospital and he died the next day as a result of a cardiac arrest.  Sadly, Mr Oak was not the only person to die due to ABD: Olaseni Lewis died from ABD after police had restrained him on 4 September 2010.

The College of Paramedics has stated that physical restraint increases the risk of ABD sufferers experiencing a cardiac arrest and they recommend minimal physical restraint. In October 2018, the College recommended that the Police and emergency services receive further training to help support sufferers of ABD.  Hopefully, these recommendations will be followed in the future and public authorities will learn from their past mistakes.

Here at Ben Hoare Bell we are experts in pursuing complaints and civil claims against public authorities. If you believe that a public authority has acted unlawfully please contact us on 0191 565 3112 or by email at: advice@benhoarebell.co.uk


Blog by Melissa Brazier, Paralegal