IOPC announces reinvestigation into police contact with Darren Cumberbatch prior to his death
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has decided to reinvestigate police contact with Darren Cumberbatch at a bail hostel in Nuneaton prior to his death in hospital in 2017.
The incident, which occurred on 10 July that year, started at the hostel in Edward Street and continued to the George Eliot Hospital, where Mr Cumberbatch, 32, sadly died on 19 July 2017. Following a mandatory referral from Warwickshire Police, the then IPCC began an independent investigation.
That investigation examined the use of force on Mr Cumberbatch by police officers both at the bail hostel and on arrival at hospital. At the end of the investigation in 2018, it was concluded there was no indication that any officer may have breached the standards of professional behaviour or that they had a case to answer for misconduct.
An inquest took place in 2019, concluding that Mr Cumberbatch’s death was drug related. The jury also concluded that police restraint contributed to his death, that there were “serious failings” by attending police officers and that some of the force used on 10 July “may have been excessive” and “probably avoidable.” They determined that police restraint on Mr Cumberbatch inside the hospital was “reasonable.”
Following representations made by Mr Cumberbatch’s family we have re-assessed whether we need to reinvestigate the matter. We have carefully considered the evidence given at the inquest and have now decided in respect of the officers’ use of force at the hostel, which included use of Taser, PAVA spray, punches and baton strikes in a confined toilet area, does require reinvestigation by the IOPC.
The reinvestigation will include examining the officers’ use of force on Mr Cumberbatch at the hostel when he was unwell, to what extent officers recognised he was suffering from Acute Behavioural Disturbance, and their decisions to enter and to forcibly remove him from the hostel toilet area.
Director of Major Investigations at the IOPC, Steve Noonan said: “Since Mr Cumberbatch’s family made their representations, an IOPC team has been closely examining the original investigation material and comparing it with accounts at the inquest.
“A matter can only be reinvestigated by the IOPC if there are compelling reasons. The compelling reasons are that the original investigation was materially flawed in a manner which had an impact on the subsequent decisions made on discipline, performance and/or referral to the Crown Prosecution Service, and/or there is ‘significant new information’ that requires further investigation. There must be a real possibility that the new information, had it been available, would have led wholly or partly to different decisions on the outcomes of our investigation. Lastly, it must be considered necessary to require a re-investigation in the public interest.
“In this case, after careful assessment we assessed a focused reinvestigation into the officers’ decision-making and use of force during their interaction with Mr Cumberbatch at the bail hostel is warranted and is necessary in the public interest.
“Those who have been closely impacted by our decision, including Mr Cumberbatch’s family and the officers involved, have been notified.