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Barrow dad inquest leads to call to change police training

A CALL has been made for police forces across the UK to change their procedures and training in the wake of a Barrow bodybuilder’s death.


The Evening Mail has gained exclusive access to a report by South and East Cumbria deputy coroner Mr Alan Sharp, compiled after he presided over the inquest into the death of 27-year-old Dale Burns.

In the report Mr Sharp asks the Lord Chancellor and police chiefs to look at re-training officers so they recognise the need for immediate emergency treatment at some arrest scenes.

He has issued a Section 43 notice as a result of evidence arising from the Dale Burns inquest to try to prevent similar deaths in England and Wales.

Dad-of-two Mr Burns was tasered by police four times in a minute during a violent struggle, and died later in hospital as the result of taking a designer drug, the inquest hearing found last month. The inquest at Kendal Coroner's Court heard Mr Burns, described by those closest to him as a “gentle giant”, had taken a substance known as “Madcat”.

He was taken to Furness General Hospital from his Hartington Street home, in Barrow, and had to be sedated before he could be assessed, but suffered a cardiac arrest and died on August 16, 2011.

During the two-and-a-half-week inquest, members of the jury were presented with evidence from experts in fields such as drugs, emergency medicine, pathology and police equipment and training. A jury ruled the force police used was appropriate and the only cause of death was the drug he had taken on the day.

In his report, which has also been sent to the Secretary of State, health bosses, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Cumbria’s chief constable, Mr Sharp states evidence he heard at Mr Burns’ inquest gave rise to concerns of other deaths happening in similar situations.

He suggests further training may be needed by forces across the UK to deal with such incidents.

He said: “From the evidence of the officers at the inquest it was clear that none had been trained on the medical implications relating to acute behavioural disturbance, or excited delirium.”

He added it had been admitted by police officers and witnesses at the scene that Mr Burns did “not have the mental capacity to understand the officers’ advice or instruction”.

Mr Sharp’s report continues: “In such situations, as the inquest heard, it is vital the incident is dealt with as a medical emergency, either requiring the attendance of medically trained personnel and, if already called, their continual presence until the individual has been transferred to hospital.

“I should stress that, in making this point, I do not intend to suggest that the police delayed unduly in calling for medical assistance in Mr Burns’ case.

“Equally, I do not intend to suggest that different action by the police or paramedics would probably have saved his life.”

He has asked that officers across the UK should be further trained to deal with such situations.

Mr Sharp said: “Training on restraint and its medical implications is a matter for each individual constabulary to implement.

“I have received submissions from Cumbria Constabulary indicating that training on acute behavioural disturbance and/or excited delirium is now compulsory in the force area.”

A force spokeswoman said: “Cumbria Constabulary has received the Rule 43 report from the coroner and will be considering all of the information. It would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.’’

Section 43 of the Coroner’s Rules provides coroners with the right to raise issues of concern and ask for action to be taken to prevent further risk of deaths in a similar situation.

Have your say

Of course blame the Police

Posted by Wassak on 20 March 2013 at 11:45

please, there have been recommendations for there next victim via death by police contact, why oh why has there never been a conviction in this country against a police officer??? ill tell you why, because all the solicitors, barristers and judges/coroners all work for the state, the system which protects its own, they are immune from prosecution when a murder has taken place, but if these officers committed fraud they would end up in jail, #justice4grainger 03/03/2012 to many deaths not enough justice, no justice, no peace, just us

Posted by Wesley on 19 March 2013 at 17:15

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