The IPCC has today published its findings following its investigation into the death of a 31-year-old man in Ramsgate.
Christian Koopmann (26/8/76) was found dead in his flat in Ramsgate on 6 January 2008. The previous day, on 5 January, he had made a series of 999 calls, including a call in which he threatened to top himself” if police did not go round to his address.
Later that day, officers did go to his address where they found him in what they believed to be a highly intoxicated state. While the officers were there, Christian was abusive towards them before falling asleep on his sofa. The officers left but asked a neighbour to let them know if he heard anything untoward and also arranged for a welfare check to take place later that evening.
When officers went back to carry out that welfare check later that evening, they found Christian lying on his back, snoring. Two people from the Mental Health Team were also at the flat by coincidence. They advised the police officers that Christian did suffer from paranoia and that if he were to wake up and find them in his flat he could become aggressive. They all decided to let him sleep off what they assumed was too much alcohol.
Just before 4.30pm on Sunday 6 January two people from the Mental Health Team visited Christian as part of their daily checks and found him dead on the sofa.
The investigation found that:
- The actions of the officers who went to the flat at first reflected a duty of care towards Christian and recognition of his vulnerability as a person with mental health issues. Despite Christian’s abusive manner, they maintained a professional approach and displayed good practice by speaking to a neighbour and arranging another patrol to conduct a welfare check two hours later.
- The actions of the officers who conducted that welfare check were in breach of the Performance of Duties of the Police: they failed to note all the relevant information provided in relation to Christian’s calls to the police, they did not advise the Mental Health Team of Christian’s threats to top himself”, they assumed he had been drinking and did not search the flat for any dangerous items of substances or for evidence of attempts of suicide of self harm. They did not carry out any physical checks to determine how drunk he was and gave no consideration to placing him into the recovery position to avoid the possibility of restricted airway. Both these officers have received official Words of Advice.
- The Acting Sergeant on duty that day was in breach of the Performance of Duties of the Police: he did not fully understand his role and responsibilities as supervisor and failed to instruct the control room and attending officers appropriately. This officer has been given a Written Warning.
IPCC Commissioner for the south east, Mike Franklin, said: As a result of our independent investigation, the two officers who undertook the welfare check on the evening of 5 January have received words of advice and the Acting Sergeant has received a written warning. From the evidence gathered by the investigation, I do not believe that any of the officers acted maliciously but there were some failings and it is right that those responsible are held to account.
However, it is important to stress that it is not only the police who have a duty of care here and I know Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust has undertaken an investigation into the role of the Mental Health Trust in this case too.”
The IPCC investigation concluded in April 2009 and was passed to the Coroner. The findings can now be released after an inquest at Sandwich Coroner’s Court return a verdict of obesity resulting in heart disease leading to death by natural causes.
Notes to editors:
The Commissioner's Report is available at www.ipcc.gov.uk/christian_koopmann_commissioner_s_report.pdf
Issued by Trish Keville, Press Officer for London and south east on 0207 166 3130.
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