Inquest told changes made at police custody suite since Cobridge man’s death

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The inquest into the death of a Cobridge man has heard of changes at the police custody suite where he died.

North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court has heard that 34-year-old Nicholas Rowley, of Waterloo Road, died at Staffordshire Police Northern Area Custody Facility in Etruria on October 2 2011.

Mr Rowley was arrested for breaching his bail on the afternoon on October 1 after being found asleep in a stairwell at John Street car park Hanley.

He was seen by four different doctors between his arrest and death, one of whom diagnosed him as suffering from  alcohol withdrawal.

The cause of Mr Rowley’s death was methadone intoxication, the inquest has heard.

The hearing at Hanley Town Hall had heard about doctors failing to arrive until hours after they were expected and failing to discuss their results with police.

Chief Inspector Paul Trevor, Staffordshire Police head of custody,  told the inquest: “I would expect all relevant and pertinent information to be on record and verbally conveyed to the custody sergeant.”

He told jury the custody suite now had a nurse on site and had changed the company that provided their doctors.

The computer system Staffordshire Police uses is also set to be replaced next year, he said.

Coroner Ian Smith pointed out that an unusual amount of time had been spent scrutinising Mr Rowley’s case and asked if much time was spent by the police examining their system to see what worked and what did not.

Ch Insp Trevor said that he frequently inspected custody facilities at “bizarre” times of day to ensure they were running smoothly.

He said: “My custody managers are constantly dip-sampling custody logs.

“It is the first thing I do every day.

“Our staff do a good job under very difficult circumstances”

A member of the jury asked the police officer if their policy about waking up detainees had been changed after the inquest heard that snoring was a possible sign of troubled breathing as a result of methadone intoxication.

He said: “It will change as a result of the evidence we heard yesterday.

The inquest continues.

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