Neal Saunders: Resisting restraint in Slough ‘contributed to death’

A suspect’s resistance to police restraint in Slough contributed to his death, an inquest found today (December 2).

The jury determined restraint was appropriate when officers arrested Neal Saunders on suspicion of assault on September 3, 2020, who was behaving in an “erratic and unpredictable” manner, according to Thames Valley Police.

Police called an ambulance, suspecting Mr Saunders of being intoxicated and displaying symptoms of Acute Behavioural Disorder. He died the next day in hospital.

“The death of Neal Saunders has undoubtedly had a significant and lasting impact on his family and friends,” said Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Katy Barrow-Grint, of Thames Valley Police.

“It is clear that he was a well-loved person and our thoughts remain with his family and friends through what I can only imagine has been a hugely difficult time.”

She said officers attended an address in Langley at 11.50pm where Mr Saunders was in “a highly distressed state” and officers “strongly suspected” he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Mr Saunders was subsequently restrained for his and our officers’ safety,” said the assistant chief constable.

“As our officers applied handcuffs to Mr Saunders, they recognised symptoms of a condition called Acute Behavioural Disorder, or ABD, and an ambulance was called at around 12.15am, as this was deemed to be a medical emergency.

“While awaiting an ambulance, our officers kept Mr Saunders under restraint as he displayed erratic and unpredictable behaviour. This was deemed necessary for his safety and for the safety of our officers.

“Throughout this time, our officers regularly checked on Mr Saunders’ state of health, including his breathing and his temperature.

“As a precaution, a defibrillator was brought into the address, although this was not required during the time we were in the property.

“Tragically, Mr Saunders died in hospital the following day.”

She continued: “We respect the narrative findings delivered by the jury at Reading Coroner’s Court today and will act on the recommendations made by His Majesty’s Coroner with regards to the death of Mr Saunders.”

She said a mandatory referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

“Although their investigation has currently indicated that there was no justification for criminal or misconduct proceedings for any officers or staff, nor was there any specific organisational learning identified, this does not mean that learning has not and will not take place,” she said.

An internal review of the incident has been conducted and the circumstances of Mr Saunders’ death will be used in future officer safety training, she added.

Thames Valley Police will continue to review its Personal Safety Training delivery, including it’s training on ABD, how to recognise symptoms, and actions to be taken in the event that this is suspected.

Anticipated changes to the National Personal Safety Training curriculum are being made in 2023 by the College of Policing.

Slough Observer | News