Police criticised over man detained with fractured neck

A police force has been criticised after an arrested man was later found to have suffered a fractured neck.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said police were called after the 61-year-old man fell at a bus shelter in Bristol.

Medical staff failed to spot the fracture despite a member of the public saying they heard two loud cracks as he fell and hit his head.

Avon and Somerset Police said training was being given to officers.

In its response to the IPCC the force said it accepted its findings and the training would help ensure custody officers were "empowered" to challenge "medical opinion".

Could not walk

But the force added: "While we have obviously been criticised by the IPCC, the investigation also revealed injuries suffered by the man had 'not been picked up by paramedics'."

The IPCC report criticised police officers and custody staff for failures including how the man's initial booking in at Trinity Road police station was handled in March 2011.

The report also said it had concerns how the man was accepted into custody and kept there for 16 hours despite the fact he could not walk.

During his time in custody the man complained of a loss of feeling in his arms and hands and that he could not feel his feet.

He was seen on eight occasions by medical staff who said he was fit to remain in detention.

'Missed opportunity'

Officers were also criticised for leaving the man in soiled clothes for his 16 hours in detention.

The IPCC said this was "not a dignified way for somebody to be dealt with" and said it was "another opportunity missed to realise that he was not fit to be in police custody".

The commission said the serious neck injury was probably sustained before the man was taken into custody but during that time he was moved into sitting and standing positions on a number of occasions.

The IPCC also criticised Avon and Somerset Police for not offering the man any food and limited fluid because he could not hold a cup of water.

Two sergeants, two police constables and three civilian detention officers have been given advice.

Great Western Ambulance Service, whose paramedics first treated the man, said they initially found "nothing to suggest" a serious injury.

"The patient was uncooperative and increasingly verbally aggressive and refused the crew's request to carry out a more detailed examination or to be taken to hospital for further checks.

"When the patient was subsequently arrested by police for being drunk and incapable, the crew observed that he walked assisted to the police vehicle and gave no indication of being in any pain or discomfort."

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