R v The Office of the Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police

Karen Robinson was instructed (with Mark Heywood QC) to prosecute the Office of the Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police in connection with alleged breaches of duty under Health & Safety legislation, in connection with the Force’s use of the Emergency Response Belt device in a custodial setting.

The investigation followed the death of Thomas Orchard, a church caretaker who had been arrested and restrained by officers of Devon and Cornwall, in October 2012, and who died in hospital a week after having suffered a cardiac arrest at a police station in Exeter.

The office of the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police pleaded guilty to breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act. There will be a hearing next year to determine whether the Force’s conduct contributed to Mr Orchard’s death.  

The BBC reports that this is the first time that a police force has admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act in connection with the death of a member of the public.

This matter was heavily covered by the press; please see the BBC, Sky News, the Guardian and the Independent.

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