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New training to be developed for officers dealing with unwell detainees

Scenario based training follows IOPC inquiry into arrest of man who had seizure

New scenario based training designed to improve the way officers deal with people who present as unwell or suffering from a medical emergency is being developed by the College of Policing and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

The training, which could be in place by April next year, is being developed following the lessons identified by an IOPC investigation into an arrest of a man last year in Poplar, east London who suffered a seizure.

In July 2019, Youness Bentahar was restrained during an arrest and appeared to have a seizure, with evidence suggesting some of the officers who attended the incident were unsure it was genuine.

However, this did not impact on the care he received, as a support team of other officers arrived quickly and provided medical treatment before handing him into the care of paramedics.

During the incident, Mr Bentahar was asked several times to move his car, parked on a yellow line and displaying a blue disability badge, as it was causing an obstruction. Mr Bentahar did not move the car so officers tried to arrest him. He resisted and was restrained, during which he appeared to have a seizure.

The arrest was videoed by members of the public and shared widely on social media at the time.

The IOPC said its investigation "highlighted the need for officers to fully understand the risks of not treating people according to how they present and assuming the medical conditions or illnesses are not genuine."

The NPCC has championed multi-officer responsibility for continually assessing a detainee’s condition (Speak Up, Speak Out), with particular responsibility given to the Safety Officer(s)  (Considerations for Safer Restraint). This also forms part of the National Decision Model step: “Gather information and intelligence.”

Checks for unresponsiveness, and recognition/treatment of seizures sit within first aid training.

The IOPC investigation concluded in April, with the Metropolitan Police agreeing an officer should reflect on his actions as part of a new formal process introduced in February 2020 on how he could have handled the incident better to avoid an alleged minor traffic offence escalating into a restraint, taking a more conversational approach to the five-step communication model.

The IOPC agreed with the MPS that there was no case to answer for misconduct.

The investigation included a review of BWV footage of the incident including sampling clips from the officer’s BWV footage of previous interactions with other members of the public.

IOPC Regional Director for London, Sal Naseem, said: “We were concerned that Mr Bentahar’s apparent seizure was not taken seriously by some officers and it should have been. That’s why we are looking at how this can inform national training, as a key part of our role is to help prevent these issues from happening again. This can only be in the interests of both the police and the public.”

The COP and NPCC’S Self Defence, Arrest and Restraint Working Group has also updated the national personal safety training manual to give further guidance to officers to enable them to better establish if there are any medical implications that require immediate attention when they are arresting an individual.

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