Polish National, Rafal Sochacki, aged 43, died of severe heatstroke and hypertensive heart disease whilst being held at Westminster Magistrates Court on 21 June 2017. At the time of his death, Mr Sochacki’s body temperature had climbed to 39.6C. An average body temperature of a human is 36.9C. Police have estimated that the temperature in Mr Sochacki’s cell was between 36C and 40C.
On 19 June 2017, Mr Sochacki was taken by police to Wood Green police station, having been arrested on a European Arrest Warrant. On 21 June 2017, he was transferred to Charing Cross police station and then to Court in a Serco-operated prisoner-escort van. On this day, Central London felt temperatures of over 30C. Mr Sochaki was left in the back of the van with the air-conditioning turned off whilst the van was parked at Charing Cross police station.
Mr Sochacki arrived at Court two and a half hours later. Court staff noted that his clothes were wet with sweat. Mr Sochacki was escorted to a non-ventilated cell where he was held for five hours. A Prison and Probation Ombudsman report prepared for the purpose of the inquest into Mr Sochacki’s death noted that the main air-conditioning system had been in disrepair for several weeks. Although there were portable air-conditioning units available, they were not of adequate quality to effectively protect individuals in the cells from heat and the jury wrote that the measures taken to control the temperature were “inadequate”.
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