IPCC to take over investigation into complaint against van officers
The IPPC are to independently investigate a complaint by Claris Powell, made following the jury’s verdict at the Inquest into the death of her son, Mikey, in a police van on the way to a police station.
The IPCC made this decision on 27 May 2011, after Claris Powell threatened to judicially review their decision to allow West Midlands Police themselves to investigate the complaint against their own officers.
An Inquest jury found on December 18 2009 that Mikey had died in the back of a police van of positional asphyxia. The jury found that Mikey had been put in the police van on his side; that he had been transported to the police station “in between” being on his side and on his front; and that he was “on his front” when he arrived at the police station. The danger of positional asphyxia is greater to someone on their front than on their side.
Following the Inquest verdict, Claris Powell made a number of complaints to the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police on 14 December 2010. This included a complaint about the accounts given to the Inquest by the officers in the van.
West Midlands Police decided on 31 January 2011 to take no action on the complaint.
Claris Powell appealed to the IPCC on 17 February 2011. On 15 March 2011 the IPCC upheld the appeal and decided that the complaint should be recorded by West Midlands Police as potential misconduct. West Midlands Police referred the complaint back to the IPCC but it decided that it should be investigated by an investigator from West Midlands Police under IPCC supervision.
Claris Powell considered that an investigation carried out by West Midlands simply would not be sufficiently independent and threatened to challenge the decision by way judicial review in the High Court – arguing that the IPCC itself should investigate the complaint. They are now doing so.
The IPCC are due to meet Claris Powell in October to discuss the investigation.