IOPC investigating after Caernarfon death in police custody

Published: 10 Jun 2024

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the circumstances of the death of a woman while in police custody in Caernarfon.

Helen Williams, aged 43, was arrested by North Wales Police outside a property in Bangor on the morning of Thursday 23 May, for a recall to prison. She was taken to Caernarfon police station where custody was authorised at around midday. She remained in custody while awaiting an appearance at court. We understand Ms Williams was placed on regular observations by custody staff and was seen by healthcare professionals. 

At around 4.30pm the next day, Ms Williams was found to have had a medical episode and despite CPR attempts, and the attendance of paramedics and an air ambulance, she was sadly pronounced dead at approximately 5.20pm on Friday 24 May.

After being notified by North Wales Police a short time later, we sent investigators to Caernarfon police station and to the post-incident procedures to begin our enquiries. Our investigation is looking at the level of care provided to Ms Williams during the course of her detention, including the decisions and actions of police officers and staff and whether they acted in accordance with local and national policies and procedures. 

A post-mortem has taken place and further tests are being carried out. The coroner has also been informed. 

IOPC Director David Ford said: “My sympathies are with Ms Williams’s family and friends and all of those affected by her death.

“It is important that an independent investigation is carried out to fully establish the circumstances when someone has died in police custody. We have spoken to the family to express our condolences and explain our role. We will be keeping them updated throughout our investigation, along with the police force and coroner.”

We are obtaining accounts from officers and staff involved as part of our enquiries. We are also viewing CCTV from the custody suite and body worn video from the officers who arrested Ms Williams.   

  • North Wales Police
  • Death and serious injury