The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the death of a 43-year-old woman in police custody in Tonbridge, Kent.
We have established the woman was arrested in Tunbridge Wells by Kent Police officers shortly before 8pm on Friday, 23 July and taken to custody at Tonbridge Police Station.
At around 1pm on Saturday (24 July), the woman appeared to be having trouble breathing and was found unresponsive in her cell. Paramedics were called and despite efforts to save her, she was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
Following a mandatory referral from Kent Police we sent investigators to the post incident procedures, where those officers involved provided their initial accounts, and to the custody suite.
IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said:
“My thoughts are with the woman’s next of kin and all those affected by her death. We have made contact with her next of kin and explained our role to them.
“It is important we fulfil our role to carry out an independent investigation into all the circumstances surrounding her contact with the police. We will examine all the actions and decisions of officers and staff involved in her detention including viewing custody records and CCTV as well as the welfare checks that were made on her during that period.
”Our investigation is in its very early stages.”
HM Coroner has been informed and a post-mortem examination took place on Sunday (25 July) the outcome of which was inconclusive pending further tests. A date has yet to be fixed for the opening of an inquest.