Police told ‘seek medical help’ for drug prisoners

POLICE officers have been told to seek urgent medical attention for prisoners who swallow drugs after a man spent three days in intensive care when he took legal highs in custody.

Police officers must seek urgent medical attention to prisoners who swallow drugs, a report has advised. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) made the recommendation after a series of delays in getting treatment for the man led him to be admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in December when he took the drugs in the back of a police van.

In a report published today, the PIRC said medical assistance should be sought at the “earliest opportunity” when prisoners have swallowed drugs or concealed them in their bodies.

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It follows the arrest of the man in Edinburgh on 1 December following reports of a disturbance in a common close.

The man managed to take a substance he had concealed on his person while in the back of the police van.

Despite requests from officers that the man be urgently admitted to custody, he had to wait 26 minutes in the van.

After being transferred to an observation cell, the man told officers he had swallowed two or three legal highs. He was seen by a nurse before being taken to hospital where his health deteriorated and his was placed in an Intensive Treatment Unit for three days.

However, medical staff were unable to confirm if the legal highs had caused his condition.

The PIRC’s investigation found officers should have ensure the man was examined sooner by healthcare professionals.

The commissioner Kate Frame said: “Where there exists a suspicion that prisoners have swallowed or absorbed drugs or other harmful substances it is imperative that police officers seek immediate medical attention for those individuals.”