UNISON comment on IOPC decision involving Devon and Cornwall police staff

Commenting on the decision of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today (Thursday) not to proceed with disciplinary hearings against two Devon and Cornwall detention officers, UNISON South West regional secretary Joanne Kaye said:

“This was a wise decision taken by an independent body, which carried out a robust examination of all the facts in this difficult case.

“It would have been quite wrong for the support staff to have faced conduct hearings following the decision earlier this year not to discipline the police officers involved.

“This is a desperately sad situation. Everyone involved is deeply sorry about the events that lead to the death of Thomas Orchard.

“But this should never have taken so long. The past seven years have been harrowing for everyone, and while the detention officers are undoubtedly relieved, it’s a terrible tragedy for the family. It is important too that the police learn lessons from this tragic incident.”

Notes to editors:

  • Today the IOPC has withdrawn the decision to direct misconduct hearings for the two detention officers involved in the detention of Thomas Orchard, after an independent panel earlier dismissed allegations against police officers relating to the same incident.
  • In February 2018, the IOPC directed that six officers and staff should face misconduct hearings relating to their involvement in the detention of Mr Orchard prior to his death in Exeter in 2012.
  • A preliminary hearing was held for four Devon and Cornwall Police officers in July this year and an independent panel ruled the allegations should be dismissed before hearing the evidence as the officers could not have a fair hearing. The two remaining detention officers, who fall under different regulations to the police officers, would have faced a separate hearing.
  • The force admitted earlier this year that it had committed a health and safety offence contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to its use of the emergency response belt.
  • UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.