Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has issued a statement following the decision of the Independent Office of Police Conduct to reopen an investigation into police contact with Darren Cumberbatch.
Mr Cumberbatch died in hospital in July 2017 after being detained by officers from Warwickshire Police in Nuneaton nine days earlier. Following a mandatory referral from Warwickshire Police, the then-Independent Police Complaints Commissioner began an independent investigation into the police contact with Mr Cumberbatch. This concluded in 2018 that there was no indication that any officer had breached the standards of professional behaviour or that they had a case to answer for misconduct.
A coroner’s inquest subsequently took place in 2019, concluding that Mr Cumberbatch’s death was drug related. The jury also concluded that police restraint contributed to his death, that there were “serious failings” by attending police officers and that some of the force used on 10 July “may have been excessive” and “probably avoidable.” They determined that police restraint on Mr Cumberbatch inside the hospital was “reasonable.”
Mr Seccombe said: “As I have done from the outset, I offer my sympathies again to Darren Cumberbatch’s family and friends, for whom this continues to be a very upsetting time.
“Policing is often challenging and officers face difficult situations in which they must make dynamic decisions every day. It is important therefore that any action they take is appropriate and proportionate and is seen to be so by the public.
“The verdict of the inquest into Mr Cumberbatch’s death raised questions about the actions taken by the attending officers and I hope the IOPC’s reinvestigation will now be able to draw definitive conclusions as to whether there were any misconduct issues or breaches of professional behaviour.
“It is important to hold the actions and decisions of officers to the highest standards, particularly so where there is a loss of life involved. Equally, it is important to understand if there are wider lessons for Warwickshire Police and other forces to learn about how future incidents can be handled.
“Getting answers to these questions is vital for public confidence in policing and I will be keen to see the conclusions of the IOPC report when they are published. Once I have received any findings, I will raise them with the Chief Constable to seek further reassurance on the public’s behalf.”