Police criticised over death of County Durham man

Police officers failed to carry out proper checks on a County Durham man who was later found dead, an investigation has concluded.

Robert Green, 48, of Ferryhill, complained to Durham Police about nuisance calls last August. Hours later he was found dead at his home.

An independent inquiry said officers who twice visited Mr Green's house should have ensured he was safe.

Durham Police said action had been taken to prevent similar errors.

The death was not treated as suspicious and a later inquest returned an open verdict.

But the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded the officers involved acted "unprofessionally" and made "unsupportable assumptions" about Mr Green's welfare.

'Forcing entry'

A woman police officer who responded to a call on 22 August, was criticised for a radio conversation in which she referred to Mr Green, who was a convicted sex offender, as a "vile man".

Another officer, who responded to a later call in which Mr Green threatened suicide, failed to ensure he was alive in his home, the IPCC said.

IPCC commissioner Nicholas Long said: "The comments made about Mr Green by the police constable in her radio transmission were inappropriate. The officer herself recognised she had been unprofessional.

"The other police constable made unsupportable assumptions based on what he could see at the property.

"Given the reported concerns he should have ensured he made contact with Mr Green, even if this entailed forcing entry to the house."

A Durham Police spokesman said: "We fully accept the IPCC's findings and take on board their recommendations.

"The officers concerned have been dealt with at an internal hearing and have been given firm advice."

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