South Yorkshire Police custody sergeants criticised over cell death

THE Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found two custody sergeants had a case to answer for misconduct after failings were identified during an investigation into the death of a man being held in custody by South Yorkshire Police.

Ecclesfield Police Station

Neil Budziszewski, 42, died in a cell at Ecclesfield police station in Sheffield on May 3 2013. He had been in the custody from the previous afternoon and was set to appear before magistrates charged with theft. Mr Budziszewski, who was an alcoholic and had taken methadone on the day he was arrested, was found unresponsive in a cell and despite efforts by police and a paramedic to save his life, was pronounced dead.

The IPCC looked at the actions of three police officers, two sergeants, an inspector, and two custody detention officers.

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It found Sgt Nigel Govier and Sgt Paul Telero had a case to answer for misconduct over issues surrounding risk assessments, custody records, medical assessments and a shift change handover. In July 2014 South Yorkshire Police gave Sgt Govier a final written warning and Sgt Telero a written warning.

The force’s chief constable David Crompton apologised unreservedly to Mr Budziszewski’s family for the distress caused to them. He said: “Following Mr Budziszewski’s death, South Yorkshire Police immediately referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission who carried out an independent investigation.

“As a result of that investigation, one officer was given a final written warning and a second officer was given a written warning.”

He said the force has made changes to the risk assessment process that is carried out concerning each detainee throughout their detention and again just prior to their release.

“This is emphasised to staff through training to maintain the safety and wellbeing of all people brought into police custody, ensuring lessons have been learnt from this tragic incident,” he added.

IPCC’s commissioner Kathryn Stone said: “The care provided to Mr Budziszewski during his period of detention fell well short of what it should have been. South Yorkshire Police has acted on our recommendations and provided an assurance that it will learn lessons from our investigation. I hope that provides some comfort to Mr Budziszewski’s family.”

An inquest last month found that heart disease and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal contributed to Mr Budziszewski’s death. The IPCC report has now been published.

The IPCC investigation had also looked at why Sgt Telero had brought a puppy into the custody suite during his shift.

The IPCC said it “could not determine that a misconduct breach had occurred as there are no local or national policies that deal with police officers or staff taking pets into work”. However, the investigation did find his actions were “unwise and unprofessional”.