A man has died after being restrained by police officers as he suffered a “mental health crisis”.

A watchdog has launched an investigation into the death of the 35-year-old, who “became unwell” after being detained by the Metropolitan Police in south-east London. He was taken by ambulance to hospital where he died.

Police said they had been called to reports of a man “attempting to gain access to the rear gardens” of houses in Lewisham” A spokesperson added: “Officers attended and found a man appearing to be in mental health crisis.

“The 35-year-old man was detained at the scene. The man was taken by London Ambulance Service to a south London hospital where he sadly died a short time later.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said its investigators had reviewed footage from officers’ body-warn cameras “that shows the man in an agitated state”. In a statement, it added: “Officers have told us the man appeared to be having a mental health crisis and so they called the London Ambulance Service. The man was restrained at the location.

“He became unwell while paramedics were at the scene and was transferred to Lewisham Hospital by ambulance where he sadly died.”

The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards referred the man’s death to the IOPC, which launched a probe. The watchdog sent investigators to the scene to speak to witnesses and has also interviewed officers and hospital staff. The family of the man, who has not been named, have been informed of the investigation.

Lee Hollins, who heads up work SecuriCares work on managing restraint risks says “This seems to be another tragic case of mental distress being taken as aggression or violence and responded to with physical control in mind. At the forefront of anyone’s minds as they approach an incident, where some form of physically challenging behaviour is in evidence, should be an awareness of what the application of force is likely to do… the good and the bad..”

Lee has previously talked about the same issue, “Physical restraint may well bring a dangerous piece behaviour under ‘control’, but it will also dramatically alter the force recipients internal physiological environment. The cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems will invariably be placed under sudden and immense stress. This has consequences. The individual’s ability to tolerate and cope with this extraordinary will be determined in large part by their mental and physical health. Research shows that many vulnerable adults aren’t equipped for such an ordeal. Sadly it leads to injury, and as in this case death My general message to staff involved in such restraints is to know the risks beforehand, and keep them in mind as you take each and every decision as you go along. For each and every action there is a consequence. Organisations sanctioning physical restraint or physical intervention must be prepared for such eventualities..”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable support workers, carers and foster families to best respond to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners. Click to see our ‘Preventing & Managing Challenging Behaviour’ Course which includes ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ techniques designed to minimise the need for any kind of restrictive intervention. You can also take a look at our person centred Behaviour Planning Service.

Securicare also offer a ‘Restraint Reduction’ support service and training in support of improving safety. Check out our ‘Physical Intervention’ courses and our online ‘Restraint Risks’ course, or ask for details about our newest course 'Physical Interventions: Removing Risk & Reducing Use' a course that provides practical guidance on how to manage risks within the context of an incident as well as prevent future restraint use. 

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442

Full story in The Independent