Families of men with mental health issues who died in custody welcome new report

Thomas Orchard
Thomas Orchard

source: ITV News
published: 30 October 2017

The families of two men with mental health issues who died in police custody has welcomed a report into how vulnerable people should be treated by emergency services. 32-year-old Thomas Orchard died in police custody in Exeter in 2012 and 25-year-old James Herbert died at Yeovil Police Station seven years ago.

The report into deaths in custody was ordered by Theresa May when she was the Home Secretary. It has stressed mentally ill people should never be held in cells.

Thomas Orchard suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and his family say being held in Exeter’s Heavitree Road Police Station made his condition worse. Before reaching the station Mr Orchard was handcuffed and bundled into a van. Moments before falling unconscious, a restraint was wrapped around his head.

His mother says more care should have been taken.

I know that Thomas would have been feeling very scared because he was in the middle of a psychiatric breakdown and I think that was a very cruel, unkind place for him to be.

Today’s report says police practice must recognise any restraint can cause death. The report also called for officers involved in incidents in police cells to be kept apart so notes cannot be compared.

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