National recommendation - National Police Chiefs' Council, May 2022
We identified national organisational learning from a death or serious injury review.
The case relates to an incident in which a man escaped from the rear cage of a moving police van and consequently, broke his wrist.
The IOPC recommends that the NPCC should communicate to police chiefs, custody leads and fleet leads the importance of regularly conducting safety checks of cage van doors to ensure locking mechanisms are in working order.
This recommendation follows a death or serious injury (DSI) investigation by Surrey Police in relation to an incident in which a detainee fled from the rear of a moving police van and sustained a broken wrist. Subsequent checks of the vehicle found that the cell door had been damaged from the inside and that the lock had been broken. It is believed that the damage occurred as a result of the door being kicked. The officers inside the van at the time did not report hearing the male kicking the door and it is therefore likely that the van door was already broken prior to the detainee being placed inside. The force confirmed that there is no current working practice where the locking mechanisms of van doors are checked during routine inspections of vehicles prior to operational use.
This learning recommendation along with the “actions to be taken” will be circulated on ChiefsNet for all Chief Constables to consider for wider learning.
- Since this DSI; Surrey and Sussex Joint Transport Services (JTS) have implemented additional routine safety checks during maintenance and servicing. JTS inspect and maintain the locks in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, this is now highlighted in the vehicle inspection sheet and the quality control inspection sheet.
- Internal email to be sent to all vehicle users highlighting the importance of vehicle checks including the checking of van cell doors.
- Surrey and Sussex Training Team (Driver Training) will now factor internal cell door lock checks into staff training for the Basic Cat B vans. Lesson plans for both driver training and divisional basic assessors will be amended to reflect this finding.