Inquest begins into police cell death of man with self-harm history

An inquest opened yesterday into the death of a man who died in a police cell after previously being detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Adrian Coldwell, who had a history of self-harm and was known to be a suicide risk, was found partly suspended by his tracksuit bottoms in a cell in Pontefract police station in Wakefield in December 2004.

He had twice been arrested and taken to the police station as a place of safety under section 136 of the Mental Health Act, the most recent occasion being three months previously.

His family are concerned about several aspects of his care and the inquest is expected to look at the following questions:

Family’s questions about death

Why were prescription drugs apparently given to Adrian by non-medically qualified police staff and what effect might these have had on his state of mind?

Why was he apparently able to use a cord from his tracksuit as a ligature while in a police cell?

Did poor cell maintenance, leaving a gaping intercom switch as a potential ligature point, contribute to his death?

The inquest at Wakefield Coroner’s Court is expected to last two weeks.

Related articles

Nacro calls for better mental health provision in custody

Deaths in custody reach 600 a year

Essential information on mental health services

More information

Guide to section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983


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