25th November 2019

An inquest has concluded into the death of Mark Needham who died at Forth Banks Police Station on 23 July 2015 after being arrested for an offence of drunk and disorderly.

The jury hearing the case concluded Mr Needham died in Police custody as a result of epilepsy and head injuries sustained by falls.  They referred in their finding to “errors and omissions” which contributed to his death including failing to make a medical assessment and to immediately start CPR when an emergency was declared.

As a result of the failures Northumbria Police have brought disciplinary proceedings against a number of Officers including a Police Sergeant.  One Detention Officer received a final written warning, two Detention Officers received written warnings and two Detention Officers were found to have misconduct proven against them resulting in one receiving a written warning and the other a verbal warning.  The Police Sergeant received a written warning for an allegation of gross misconduct concerning the lack of urgency in ensuring Mr Needham’s safety whilst in custody which was found to be proven.

Northumbria Police have accepted the findings of the inquest.  The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) who carried out an investigation into the death stated the actions of some of the Officers “fell well below the standard expected”.  The IOPC commented “while the vast majority of Police Officers and staff uphold the highest professional standards, in this case, more could and should have been done”. 

Blog by Richard Hardy, Partner