27 Nov 2018

Police censured after self-harm incidents at Manukau station

12:14 pm on 27 November 2018

The police watchdog has found officers failed twice in their duty of care to a woman who was trying to harm herself.

Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

In October 2017, the woman was left unattended in a holding cell, where she tried to self-harm.

The woman fell to the floor where she was unnoticed by staff for more than five minutes. When the woman was discovered on the floor, police put her in the recovery position but failed to notice her attempt to self-harm.

On a second check in, the woman's self-harm attempt was noticed and she was sedated and placed in intensive care where she was discharged two days later.

In November last year woman was arrested again and placed in a cell. Another prisoner was put in a cell with her and activated the call button 30 minutes later after she noticed the woman did not appear to be breathing.

Police took several minutes to respond to the call. It was discovered she had attempted to self-harm again and she was transported to hospital.

Independent Police Conduct Authority chair Judge Colin Doherty said there were a number of failings by police officers over communication and the accuracy of their risk evaluations.

The report found the woman was not monitored properly, and concerns about her behaviour were not passed on.

"It is evident that in both instances Police did not sufficiently fulfil their duty of care to her," Judge Doherty said.

Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers says police accept the report's findings.

"In these two instances we clearly did not provide the duty of care that is expected when monitoring people being held in our custody unit, particularly those individuals identified as being at-risk.

"This is obviously disappointing and we acknowledge that there were several shortcomings identified by the police staff involved in these two incidents.

"We have investigated this matter and identified learnings where we can improve our practices," he said.

Superintendent Rogers said since the incident they have notified the IPCA that the Police are in the process of implementing a plan to improve the way staff evaluate and monitor individuals held in custody in order to prevent this from happening again.

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