GMP’s ‘sloppy approach to care’ led to death of epileptic man in custody, claims police watchdog

The death of an epileptic sufferer held in Great Manchester Police custody was caused by poor operating practices and a ‘sloppy approach’ to his care, according to an independent regulator.

Billy Salton, 19, suffered two epileptic seizures in just 33 hours whilst being held at the Cheadle Heath custody suite.

He then suffered a third fit in a cell at Stockport Magistrates’ Court after being transferred there for a court hearing before dying three days later in Stepping Hill Hospital on July 9 2012.

A review by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that Mr Salton could have been processed quicker had the detention officers and custody sergeants adhered to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), instead of their own guidance.

It also found that neither of his first two fits were spotted by staff despite being in a cell with CCTV and that there was confusion and delay in getting epilepsy medication to him.

However, there was insufficient evidence to suggest any individual officer or member of GMP staff breached their standards of professional behaviour.

IPCC Commissioner for Greater Manchester James Dipple-Johnstone said: “The care afforded to Mr Salton during his lengthy detention at Cheadle Heath custody suite should have been of a higher standard.

“Although it cannot be said that this contributed to Mr Salton’s death there are a number of issues from this tragic case and other IPCC investigations of the same unit that need to be addressed by Greater Manchester Police to ensure that a better standard of care is given to others in a similar situation.

“Mr Salton’s family has been made aware of our findings and I offer my sincere condolences to them for their loss.”

The IPCC have made recommendations to the GMP following the incident after they found evidence of poor risk assessment, custody record entry, visiting regime, communication with clinicians and use of CCTV.

An inquest recorded that Mr Salton died of natural causes after suffering a heart attack brought on by a third epileptic fit he suffered after transfer to Stockport Magistrates’ Court.

Image courtesy of GMP, with thanks

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