The mother of a 43-year-old woman who died when locked in a Kent Police station cell has welcomed a jury’s conclusion that police officers’ failure to ensure she was medically assessed may have cost her life.
Mother-of-four Debbie Padley had been taken to Tonbridge Police Station’s custody suite following a domestic incident at her home on the evening of July 23, 2021. Seventeen hours later, she was found unresponsive in a cell and declared dead.
When taken into custody Ms Padley had initially complained of feeling unwell and was recorded as being ‘under the influence of alcohol or substances’ and ‘not fit to be interviewed’.
She was placed on Level 1 observations, despite police practice codes saying that, due to her level of intoxication, she should have been placed on Level 2 observations, which would have triggered cell visits every 30 mins.
Officers would also have had a duty to ‘rouse’ her and ask questions to assess her condition, something the custody suite officers failed to do.
An inquest into Ms Padley’s death heard how officers failed to carry out standard checks on her throughout the night which, had they been done, may have resulted in medical assistance being called for earlier.
A jury at Maidstone County Hall concluded that Ms Padley’s death ‘may possibly have been prevented if she had been assessed by a medical professional whilst detained’.