25 February 2021 | Investigations
Investigation Report- Death following police contact, Northern Isles
In the early hours of 18 July 2020, members of the public alerted police officers to a 34-year- old man lying in the street in a town in the Northern Isles. The officers approached the man and found him asleep and smelling of alcohol. Having roused him, the man was found to be aware of his surroundings and understood what the officers were saying to him. The officers assisted the man to his feet and then walked with him to his nearby flat where they left him alone.
About 2pm that day, a friend of the man went to his flat and found him dead.
CCTV footage shows various sightings of the 34-year-old man in the company of friends throughout 17 July 2020 and him leaving a friend’s flat in the early hours of the 18 July 2020, prior to being found by members of the public and the officers.
REFERRAL TO THE PIRC
Under the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (as amended) and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013, all incidents involving a death after police contact must be referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for independent assessment. In this regard on 19 July 2020 Police Scotland referred the incident to the PIRC
The PIRC investigation focused on the police contact with the man until he was found deceased within his flat.
PIRC Investigators obtained witness statements from the police officers and they examined STORM Command and Control incident logs, Airwave communications, briefing papers and viewed private space CCTV.
The investigation finds:
The man died within his home sometime between 1am and 2pm on 18 July 2020. The cause of death was as a result of consuming Buprenorphine and Flubromazolam, a designer drug.
- At 12.30am on 18 July 2020, police officers found the man asleep, under the influence of alcohol, in the street. On rousing him they found him to lucid, coherent and able to walk unaided.
- In the officers judgement, although the man was drunk, he was not incapable of taking care of himself. They escorted him the short distance to his home where he was left alone.
- CCTV evidence shows the man having a significant degree of incapacity although he was capable of walking unaided.
- It cannot be ascertained if the man consumed the drugs that led to his death prior to or after his contact with the police.
- Given that the man was able to communicate with the officers, provide his address and walk mostly unaided, the officers determined that he was not so inebriated to arrest him for being drunk and incapable.
- In the circumstances the officers acted appropriately and the man’s subsequent death could not have been foreseen.
The Commissioner made no recommendations.