Police sorry over series of failures before man died in cell

Neil Budziszewski, 42, who was found dead in his cell
Neil Budziszewski, 42, who was found dead in his cell
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Two officers have been given written warnings after South Yorkshire Police admitted a series of failings over a man’s death in custody.

Neil Budziszewski, aged 42, was found dead in his police cell hours after multiple officers failed to call a doctor when he was heard retching.

Police Chief Constable David Crompton has apologised ‘unreservedly’ after numerous failures were identified by the inquest into Mr Budziszewski’s death.

The Sheffield-born man had been arrested for shoplifting and taken to Ecclesfield Police Station on May 2. The court heard Sergeant Nigel Govier failed to carry out a mandatory risk assessment when Mr Budziszewski arrived.

He was then taken to Bridge Street station for identification, where it was revealed he was an alcoholic. The jury heard Mr Budziszewski should have seen a doctor because of the risk of alcohol withdrawal leading to death.

But when Mr Budziszewski was returned to Ecclesfield station, Sgt Govier failed to call a doctor. He told the inquest the training he received from South Yorkshire Police was ‘not fit for purpose’.

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Sgt Nicholas Dodsworth admitted Mr Budziszewski told him he might need medication for alcohol withdrawal if he was kept overnight - but he did not pass the request on to custody staff, despite making an entry in the record claiming he had.

Custody officer Sgt Paul Telero heard Mr Budziszewski retching but failed to have him seen by a doctor, despite one being present at the station at the time.

At 6.30am a third custody officer, Sgt Justin Hart, came on duty and also failed to get a doctor. Mr Budziszewski was found dead at about 9.15am. The cause of death was given as heart artery narrowing, but the jury found it was likely that alcohol withdrawal could have contributed.

Mr Budziszewski’s brother, Steven Budziszewski, said: “It has been very difficult to sit in court for two weeks and hear about the many ways South Yorkshire Police failed to care for my brother when he was in their custody. I am pleased police have admitted these failings but it won’t bring my brother back. I look forward to receiving the David Crompton’s response to the coroner’s report and I hope he will agree to learn the lessons from Neil’s death.”

Chief Constable David Crompton said: “I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Mr Budziszewski’s family and apologise unreservedly for the distress caused to them.

“We accept the verdict of the coroner and will await his report and ensure we act upon any recommendations.

“Following Mr Budziszewski’s death, South Yorkshire Police immediately referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“As a result of that investigation, one officer was given a final written warning and a second officer was given a written warning.

“The IPCC has been notified of evidence heard during the inquest and we await any further instruction.

“The Force has made changes to the risk assessment process carried out concerning each detainee throughout their detention and again just prior to their release.

“This is emphasised to staff through training to maintain the safety and wellbeing of all people brought into police custody, ensuring lessons have been learnt from this tragic incident.”