Statement following death of Neal Saunders - Slough
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Following the conclusion of an inquest today (2/12) into the death of Neal Saunders, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Katy Barrow-Grint, of Thames Valley Police, has made the following statement.
“The death of Neal Saunders has undoubtedly had a significant and lasting impact on his family and friends.
“It is clear that he was a well-loved person and our thoughts remain with his family and friends through what I can only imagine has been a hugely difficult time.
“Mr Saunders tragically died in hospital on 4 September 2020 after officers had been called at around 11.50pm to an incident of alleged assault in the late evening of 3 September.
“We attended an address in Langley, Slough, just before midnight on that date, and it was very clear that, on being arrested, Mr Saunders was in a highly distressed state, and our officers strongly suspected that he was under the influence of alcohol and controlled drugs.
“Mr Saunders was subsequently restrained for his and our officers’ safety.
“As our officers applied handcuffs to Mr Saunders, they recognised symptoms of a condition called Acute Behavioural Disorder, or ABD, and an ambulance was called at around 12.15am, as this was deemed to be a medical emergency.
“While awaiting an ambulance, our officers kept Mr Saunders under restraint as he displayed erratic and unpredictable behaviour. This was deemed necessary for his safety and for the safety of our officers.
“Throughout this time, our officers regularly checked on Mr Saunders’ state of health, including his breathing and his temperature.
“As a precaution, a defibrillator was brought into the address, although this was not required during the time we were in the property.
“Tragically, Mr Saunders died in hospital the following day and today’s inquest has returned a narrative verdict.
“The jury decided it was appropriate Mr Saunders was restrained for the duration of the incident as there was no safe, practicable alternative, although resistance against restraint contributed to his death.
“We respect the narrative findings delivered by the jury at Reading Coroner’s Court today and will act on the recommendations made by His Majesty’s Coroner with regards to the death of Mr Saunders.
“A mandatory referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and although their investigation has currently indicated that there was no justification for criminal or misconduct proceedings for any officers or staff, nor was there any specific organisational learning identified, this does not mean that learning has not and will not take place.
“An internal review of the incident has been conducted and the circumstances of Mr Saunders’ death will be used in future officer safety training.
“In line with College of Policing guidance, Thames Valley Police will continue to review its Personal Safety Training delivery (which is undertaken by all officers annually), including it’s training on ABD, how to recognise symptoms, and actions to be taken in the event that this is suspected. Anticipated changes to the National Personal Safety Training curriculum are being made in 2023 by the College of Policing.
“This tragedy has affected many people, and it is his family and friends who have been most deeply affected by their loss.
“On behalf of Thames Valley Police, I would like to offer our sincere condolences to them.”