Tayside and Central Scotland

Review after man set himself on fire in police van

The procedure for moving people in custody has been reviewed after a man set himself on fire in the back of a police van.

The incident followed the arrest of a 42-year-old man in Arbroath after a disturbance in the town in February.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) said the man used a lighter to set his clothes alight after being handcuffed and put in the van.

Police Scotland said more guidance on searching suspects had been given.

The man suffered injuries to his arm as a result of the incident.

The Pirc report said that prior to the incident, one of the officers saw the man with an item which he believed was a cigarette lighter, but when he was searched, no lighter was found.

The report found that the man was wearing a pair of tracksuit bottoms, which had a side pocket next to the knee, underneath his trousers.

This pocket was not searched as the officer was unaware of its presence.

Raise awareness

The Transit van was fitted with a passenger seat facing back towards the cell cage, but the officer responsible for monitoring the man sat in one of the front forward seats.

Once discharged from hospital, the man later appeared in court and was convicted.

The report recommended that Police Scotland review and raise awareness of their procedures, particularly in the monitoring of someone put in a "cage van".

Police Scotland confirmed that further guidance on the importance of carrying out "professional, effective and diligent" searches had been given to officers to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident happening again.

Further advice has also been issued on the risks of handcuffing a person in custody at their front.

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