Police not to blame for self harm incident in custody suite

Incident Date: Jun 2014

The Police Ombudsman has found no evidence of police misconduct after a man harmed himself with razor blades which he managed to smuggle into a cell at Armagh Custody Suite.

An investigation found that police had conducted appropriate searches when he was arrested and before he was taken to his cell.

The incident happened at Armagh custody suite in June 2014. The man was known to have a history of concealing items and using them to harm himself in custody.

Officers told Police Ombudsman investigators that they had conducted thorough searches of the man before he was left in his cell, and said they had no reason to suspect that he had any item which could be used to harm himself.

They said he stripped naked and threw his clothes at a prison officer after being taken to his cell. He was then inspected to ensure he had no dangerous items concealed on his person.

Police records also showed that the man had been kept under observation while in custody.

A custody officer raised the alarm about an hour and a half after the man was admitted to custody, when it was discovered that he had cut his wrist and thighs.

He told officers that he had used a razor blade which he had then swallowed.  He was taken to hospital, where he regurgitated two razor blades.

The man later provided a statement that he had concealed two small razor blades within his body, so that when he was searched by police they would not be found.

He said he retrieved the blades and covered himself with a blanket before cutting his arm and upper left leg.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that police had taken appropriate measures to prevent the man bringing dangerous items into custody.

He found no evidence of any misconduct by any of the officers involved.

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