IPCC ISSUES FINDINGS FROM INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH OF VICTOR MASSEY
09 June 2011: The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has today published its findings from an investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Victor Massey in August 2006 in Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield.
The IPCC concluded its investigation some time ago but publication of its findings has had to await the outcome of an inquest. At the inquest which ended in Nottingham today a jury returned a narrative verdict.
The IPCC independent investigation examined all the circumstances surrounding a call for assistance made by staff at the Turner ward of the Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield, the police responses to this call, and later police communication with the Massey family.
The investigation concluded that the use of CS spray by an officer in the confined environment of a hospital corridor, and taking into account all the circumstances, was not appropriate.
The investigation also found several learning points for Nottinghamshire Police:
- prior to the use of CS spray in the hospital, officers should have asked staff about the clinical situation of Mr Massey and of other patients nearby;
- the importance of incident scene preservation should be reinforced in officer training;
- officers should be reminded of the requirement to retain a control sample of blood for future forensic analysis;
- police scene logs should be amended to allow more detail to be included by officers.
IPCC Commissioner Len Jackson said: “This was a volatile situation police found themselves in, but it is difficult to see why an officer felt it necessary to use CS spray given the hospital environment he was in and that any potential threat posed by Mr Massey could have effectively been dealt with by the officer standing back. Entry to the shower room was made immediately afterwards which could have been conducted as effectively without the use of the CS spray.”
On 2 August 2006 Mr Massey collapsed at his home complaining of severe stomach pains. He was admitted to Kings Mill Hospital with suspected pancreatitis and was admitted to ward B7. By 7 August he seemed to making progress and when his wife visited him in hospital that evening he was settled. Later that evening, Mr Massey broke free from the intravenous pipes attached to him and ran down the ward, locking himself in the shower room. Hospital staff could not persuade him to come out and police were called.
Four officers arrived and managed to get the shower room door slightly ajar. Officers saw Mr Massey wave a shard of glass towards them wrapped in cloth in his hand. Mr Massey was sprayed with CS spray by one officer before the shower door was broken down and he was removed into the corridor. He was taken to the floor and then handcuffed, and a doctor injected him with Lorazepam, a sedative. Soon after administering the sedative, Mr Massey suffered a cardiac arrest and despite efforts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead in the early hours of 8 August 2006. The post mortem report recorded the cause of death as 'fatal collapse during physical restraint'.
The death was referred by Nottinghamshire Police to the IPCC at the time and a complaint was also made by Mr Massey’s wife of unnecessary force used by officers on her husband and incivility by an officer when speaking to her after the death. Mrs Massey made a further complaint in November 2006 about the manner in which a police inspector had dealt with the family.
Early on in the investigation, the IPCC served advisory notices on four Nottinghamshire Police constables to inform them their actions were under investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service were consulted during the course of the investigation and decided no officers would face criminal charges. The IPCC also consulted with the Health and Safety Executive who have undertaken their own investigation. As a result of the investigation, the four officers have since been given management advice by the force. Mrs Massey’s complaint that an officer was uncivil to her at the hospital was, on the balance of probabilities, upheld. Her complaint in relation to the police inspector was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.
The investigation obtained witness statements from staff, patients and others, and interviewed police officers. It also took account of evidence from medical and police safety training experts.
The Nottinghamshire Police CS Spray procedure document makes clear: ‘There is a significant risk of persons other than the subject, and the surrounding environment, being affected by CS when it is used (cross contamination). For this reason, officers should avoid using the spray in a confined space or indoor locations wherever possible’.
Another investigation finding was that the four officers wrongly allowed the incident scene to be cleaned soon after the death and therefore failed to preserve the scene for evidence appropriately. UKPolicing.info Notes . . .
For media enquiries contact the IPCC press office on 0207-166-3239