Watchdog identifies Police Scotland failings after man's suicide

A watchdog investigation has found Police Scotland failed to properly handle a series of complaints from a woman whose brother committed suicide after being released from custody.

The man, known only as Mr A, was held for three days in 2016 and, according to his sister, was not seen by a doctor or given his medication, despite his family warning police officers that he suffered from mental health problems. He attempted suicide the day after his release, and died several weeks later as a result of his injuries. Yesterday, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) said Police Scotland had failed to deal with any of the woman’s five complaints about her brother’s case to a reasonable standard.

The watchdog also highlighted the fact the force had been too quick to destroy relevant CCTV footage. According to its report, the woman told officers her brother would need to see a doctor and would require access to his medication. She offered to take the medication to the police station, but was told Mr A’s medical needs were being met and that she would be contacted should the medication be required. Mr A’s solicitor also raised concerns about her client’s mental health and indicated that she felt he was not fit for interview.

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The report said: “According to the applicant, when Mr A was released he said that he had not been seen by a doctor in custody, had not been given his medication and had not eaten for two days. He attempted suicide the following day and died several weeks later as a result of his injuries.”

Police Scotland have been criticised

The woman made five complaints about Police Scotland’s handling of her brother’s case, none of which were upheld by the force.

The report added: “The Pirc found that Police Scotland did not handle any of the applicant’s complaints to a reasonable standard. We consider that further inquiries should have been carried out into the complaints and that Police Scotland should have informed the applicant of the findings of the internal review.

“We have issued a reconsideration direction to Police Scotland instructing them to re-examine all of the complaints. We have also issued a learning point about the retention of custody CCTV footage.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “The care and welfare of people in custody is a priority for Police Scotland and where learning and improvement opportunities are identified we will ensure we do so.

Police Scotland have been criticised

“We accept the reconsideration direction issued by the Pirc in this case and will undertake a full and thorough investigation in line with established procedures.”