World Incidents

Meirion James inquest: death caused by ‘excessive’ time spent face down and restrained

The jury at the Meirion James inquest has concluded that an “excessive length of time spent face down whilst being restrained” resulted in his death.

Meirion James, 53, from Crymych, died at Haverfordwest Police Station in January 2015, after calling police to report he had assaulted his mother.

Post-mortem evidence read to the jury earlier this week suggested Meirion James had no evidence of underlying diseases.

During the course of this three week inquest the jury has heard how Mr James had been restrained face down, also known as the prone position.

Today, the jury at Haverfordwest County Hallconcluded that this resulted in his death.

Meirion James, a former teacher, had a history of mental health problems, including a diagnosis of Manic Depression.

Mr James also suffered from bipolar disorder. He was involved in a minor road traffic incident at Llanrhystud on the A487 in Ceredigion on 30 January 2015.

Dyfed-Powys Police attended and he was detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

While in police custody at Aberystwyth, Mr James disclosed he had earlier taken a lot of his medication. He was taken to Bronglais Hospital and was discharged by medical staff about five hours later.

Following the completion of their investigation into prior police contact with Mr James in June 2016, the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) made a number of recommendations intended to improve the force’s handling of detainees with mental health issues.

The IOPC says the two officers in question “had a case to answer for misconduct”.

The IOPC says Dyfed-Powys Police accepted their findings and learned from the investigation in 2016. It also says that the force has advised them that it has improved mental health training for its front-line officers, and undertaken work with partners to help ensure a cohesive response to people who are in crisis.

We did find some aspects of the police involvement with Mr James were not in accordance with procedure.

In particular, a custody record should have been created for his detention at Aberystwyth police station, which would have made important information about Mr James’ condition readily available to colleagues at Haverfordwest custody suite the next day.

Procedures should have been followed by the police to ensure Mr James received a full Mental Health Act assessment following his Section 136 detention.

Medical staff who saw Mr James at Bronglais Hospital did not note any outward symptoms of his psychiatric condition, but they asserted they had not been informed of his detention under the Mental Health Act. It cannot be known whether a full mental health assessment by doctors and an approved professional would have altered the tragic outcome.

– IOPC DIRECTOR FOR WALES, CATRIN EVANS

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