Probe by watchdog after near miss in police cell
THE Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched a "near miss" investigation after a man was found collapsed in police cells.
The 30-year-old from Sketty, Swansea, should have been checked every 30 minutes while in custody because of concerns about his health.
It has emerged that a detention officer employed by private security company G4S recorded in the custody log book that they had checked the prisoner — but CCTV footage showed otherwise.
When the station custody sergeant at Swansea Central Police Station discovered the irregularity the cell was checked, the prisoner was found collapsed and was rushed to hospital. He has since made a full recovery.
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G4S said the guard involved no longer worked for the firm.
Confirming an investigation was under way, Tom Davies, IPCC commissioner for Wales, said: "Fortunately, this man was found in time and has now recovered.
"Medical staff had advised that this particular man was to be visited at 30-minute intervals because of concerns about his health.
"There has been a lot of work and policies aimed at making detention safer and our investigation will examine what happened in this case and what specific training custody staff are given."
The incident happened in the early hours of Tuesday, July 10.
After treatment in hospital, the prisoner was released and following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service no further action was against him. South Wales Police then referred the matter to the IPCC.
A spokeswoman for the force said the alleged failings by the G4S detention officer were swiftly identified by its custody sergeant who instructed that an immediate check on the detainee take place.
She said: "South Wales Police are pleased to note that the detained person has made a full recovery.
"G4S was notified of the incident and they have subsequently suspended their staff member from duty."
She added that the care of people held in police custody was of paramount importance to South Wales Police.
Contractor G4S has been making the headlines in recent days after its failure to provide enough staff at Olympic venues, prompting the mobilisation of thousands of troops, and police officers being drafted in to make-up the shortfall.
Like many forces, South Wales Police use G4S to provide staff for custody suites where they supervise, escort and search detainees.
A spokesman for the firm said it had signed-up to the IPCC's code of conduct and would cooperate fully with its investigation.
He said: "G4S suspended a member of staff immediately after the incident. A subsequent internal investigation found that the individual failed to check on the welfare of detainees, which amounts to gross misconduct. The officer concerned is no longer an employee of G4S.
"We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously, and expect all our employees to observe the highest levels of professionalism at all times.
"Where there are instances of our employees falling below these high standards, then appropriate action is taken."