Serious failings by Northumbria Police resulted in a woman being left with permanent brain damage after officers mistook Hypoglycaemic attack for drunkenness.

In September 2010, Northumbria Police arrested a woman on suspicion of being drunk in Heaton Park, Newcastle. The woman was actually suffering a hypoglycaemic attack caused by low sugar levels in her blood.

The arresting officers failed to recognise the symptoms and subsequently conveyed the woman to Byker Police Station instead of taking her to a hospital.

After being left unattended in a cell for almost seven hours, she was then discovered by officers to have fallen into a coma.

She has been left with permanent brain damage as a result of the officer’s failings.

The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and an investigation proceeded. The IPCC found cases to answer for misconduct and gross misconduct but unfortunately both a Sergeant and an Inspector retired before the proceedings could be heard.

A Police Constable did attend the misconduct hearing, which took place on 3rd April 2012, and received a written warning for their involvement.

Almost five years on, Northumbria Police have been ordered to pay damages to the sum of £450,000 because of their failings.

Northumbria Police have said:

The force acknowledged at an early stage that it had fallen short of its duty to protect this woman while in custody. Northumbria Police has a high standard of care and wellbeing for all those who are brought into custody. There have been significant improvements made in recent years and the force continues to evaluate its practices to ensure the utmost safety of detainees and staff.

Whilst the speed that the case was referred to the IPCC is commendable, the woman involved and her family may well be disappointed. Clearly two officers were able to ‘escape’ the misconduct allegations against them, and still receive their pensions. It would be understandable if the aggrieved felt that justice had not quite been served.

It has taken almost five years to reach this point in the case, a time delay that is unacceptable in a case which is, on the basic facts, so clear-cut.

At Farleys, our specialised Actions Against the Police team have a great deal of experience in bringing claims against the police where they have acted inappropriately. For further information or to speak to us about pursuing a claim against the Police, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us by email or call us on 0845 050 1958.