Hereford & Worcester

Strip search needed to prevent self-harming, IPCC says

Suspects whom the police believe could try to self-harm should be strip searched before being left in a cell, the police watchdog has said.

A man from Hereford was arrested by West Mercia Police under the Mental Health Act on 5 July and was found later that day bleeding in his cell.

Police had used a hand-held metal detector to check him for blades.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the hand-held device could not detect such small objects.

'No misconduct'

It said: "The investigation found that the man should have been properly strip-searched."

"There was no evidence of misconduct in this case," it added.

The 54-year-old was arrested after an Asda security guard found him cutting his wrists near the supermarket in Kimble Centre, Hereford.

His wounds were superficial and he was taken into custody for his own safety and placed under constant CCTV monitoring, the report said.

'Reassuring response'

The detention officer noticed the man was acting suspiciously and went to his cell where he alerted staff that he had self-harmed again. A razor blade was found under the mattress but he was not seriously hurt, the report said.

The watchdog was also asked to investigate a similar incident that happened two weeks earlier, when a 48-year-old man was found with a bladed item in a Worcester police station.

A spokesman for the commission said: "There were a number of similar cases in the West Mercia Police area last year and we specifically looked to see if there was a common issue.

"Our investigations have shown there is not and I am reassured by the positive way the force has responded to the various recommendations the IPCC has made."

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