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Death of Mr Z in Police custody in Auckland – IPCA

On 24 June 2023 at about 6pm, Police arrested a man who was under the influence of methamphetamine. Police took the man to the Auckland Custody Unit (ACU) and called an ambulance to meet them there to assess him. At the ACU, staff noticed that he also had serious injuries. After being advised that an ambulance was going to take some time to arrive, Police drove the man to Auckland Hospital, but he became unresponsive while in the patrol car. An officer started performing chest compressions. Upon arriving at the hospital, medical staff took over emergency care for the man but were unable to resuscitate him.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that it was appropriate for the arresting officers to take the man to the custody unit first, to be assessed by ambulance staff there. We also found that Police and custody staff cared well for the man while he was in their custody. Police did not breach the People in Police Custody policy or their overarching duty of care towards the man.

Following our examination of this incident, the Authority made the following recommendations which Police accepted and are in the process of implementing:

  • Police should provide training to their staff, to create awareness around the risks, signs, and symptoms of methamphetamine and other drug overdosing.
  • If an ambulance is not available within a reasonable time, consideration should be given to taking a detainee directly to a hospital.
  • Where a detainee has lost their ability to communicate or answer questions, this should be treated as a medical emergency, and the detainee should be taken directly to a hospital.

 

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