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IOPC to reopen inquiry into man’s drug-related death

The IOPC has decided to reinvestigate officers’ use of force on Darren Cumberbatch who later died in hospital from drug-related causes.

In July 2017, police were called to a bail hostel in Nuneaton where Darren Cumberbatch was staying by someone concerned about his behaviour. 

The officers arrived in the early hours of the morning and Mr Cumberbatch was taken to hospital shortly after. 

The case was referred to the then IPCC by Warwickshire Police and an investigation examined the use of force by officers both at the bail hostel and on arrival at the hospital. 

The investigation subsequently concluded that there was no indication any officer had breached the standards of professional behaviour. 

An inquest in 2019 concluded that his death was drug related but the jury also concluded that the police restraint contributed to his death. 

They concluded there were “serious failings” by officers and that some of the force used “may have been excessive” and “probably avoidable”. The police restraint inside the hospital however was "reasonable". 

The use of force included the use of Taser, PAVA spray, punches and baton strikes in a confined toilet area. 

Mr Cumberbatch’s family have since made representations and the IOPC have decided that a reinvestigation of the use of force at the hostel is necessary. It will include examining to what extent officers recognised that he was suffering from Acute Behavioural Disturbance and their decisions to enter and forcibly remove him from the hostel area. 

Director of Major Investigations at the IOPC, Steve Noonan said: “Since Mr Cumberbatch’s family made their representations, an IOPC team has been closely examining the original investigation material and comparing it with accounts at the inquest. 

“A matter can only be reinvestigated by the IOPC if there are compelling reasons. The compelling reasons are that the original investigation was materially flawed in a manner which had an impact on the subsequent decisions made on discipline, performance and/or referral to the Crown Prosecution Service, and/or there is ‘significant new information’ that requires further investigation. There must be a real possibility that the new information, had it been available, would have led wholly or partly to different decisions on the outcomes of our investigation. Lastly, it must be considered necessary to require a re-investigation in the public interest.

“In this case, after careful assessment we assessed a focused reinvestigation into the officers’ decision-making and use of force during their interaction with Mr Cumberbatch at the bail hostel is warranted and is necessary in the public interest.”

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