Met Police suspends forcible mouth searches

Scotland Yard has suspended forcible searches of suspects' mouths.

The force took the step after investigators probing the death of a young man warned officers were being given "conflicting advice" nationally about searching individuals suspected of placing drugs or other packages in their mouths.

Rashan Charles, 20, died in July last year after he was pursued into a shop and detained by police in Hackney, east London.

The death sparked violent clashes in the area.

In an update published on Monday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said its ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Charles's death has identified "conflicting available advice given to police nationally about searching people suspected of placing drugs or other packages in their mouths".

Some advice stated it was never appropriate to use force to search someone who may have something in their mouth due to the risk of choking - while other guidance said it may be appropriate in certain circumstances.

In September the IOPC asked the National Police Chiefs' Council and the College of Policing to review their guidance urgently.

Subsequently the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has suspended searching mouths by force "due to the associated risks", the watchdog added.

Rashan Charles died after being chased by police and apprehended in a shop (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Rashan Charles died after being chased by police and apprehended in a shop (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Final post-mortem examination results indicate Mr Charles died of a sudden cardiac arrest brought on by a blocked upper airway.

This was, in the pathologist's view, most likely caused by him attempting to swallow a plastic package that subsequent forensic testing showed contained a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol, the IOPC said.

The pathologist identified no other significant injuries to the head, neck or torso of Mr Charles that would suggest prolonged or excessive restraint in the lead up to his death.

IOPC Regional Director Jonathan Green said: "It is vital we establish all of the circumstances surrounding Rashan's death and our comprehensive investigation continues in advance of his inquest to be held later this year."

Last week the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed no action will be taken against an officer involved in the restraint.

Mr Charles's family said they "do not understand" the CPS's decision.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS