Ethnicity reviewed in Essex Police prisoner severed fingertip probe

Colchester Police Station Image copyright Google
Image caption Three of the prisoner's fingertips were severed while he was in custody at Colchester police station

A police watchdog will consider whether the ethnicity or the mental health of a prisoner injured in a cell influenced the actions of the officers involved.

The 33-year-old had the tops of three fingers severed off as he clung to the rim of the toilet bowl while six officers tried to restrain him.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the incident which took place at Colchester police station on 1 May.

The restraint used will be reviewed.

The IPCC will also examine why there was a delay of five hours in taking the prisoner's severed fingertips to hospital.

'Finger tops recovered'

The man was arrested on 30 April and was taken to Colchester police station, the IPCC said in a statement.

In the early hours of 1 May, officers went into his cell and found him standing with one foot in the toilet bowl.

He held on to the rim of the metal bowl while six officers tried to restrain him.

The IPCC said it was then that the tops of three of his fingers on his left hand were cut off, and he was taken to hospital.

"The tops of the fingers were later recovered from inside the toilet and transported to hospital," the statement said.

"The investigation will consider whether the man's mental health or ethnicity influenced the actions of officers involved in the incident."

The investigation will also look at the "appropriateness of restraint used by officers".

This will include whether the officers' actions contributed to his injuries, and whether any first aid was provided before he went to hospital.

It will also examine why there was a delay of "around seven hours in referring the matter to the IPCC".

Essex Police's Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Lindsay Whitehouse said the investigation was "entirely appropriate... given the injuries suffered by the individual concerned".

"Essex Police has assured me that an internal review of toilet facilities in custody suites was carried out in the aftermath of this incident and I understand replacement works are now underway."

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