Death of Seni Lewiswhile in care of mental health services to be reviewed

Seni Lewis died after being restrained at the Royal Bethlem Hospital

Seni Lewis died after being restrained at the Royal Bethlem Hospital

First published in News by , Chief Reporter

The death of a Croydon student, after being restrained at a mental institution, will be investigated by police as part of an independent review.

A panel will examine every case from the last five years where someone with a mental health condition has either died or been seriously injured following police contact.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said he had ordered the review after a number of cases highlighted concerns with how police response to people with mental health conditions.

Seni Lewis 23, died after he was restrained by up to seven police officers at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham on August 31, 2010.

The student who lived in South Norwood, had recently completed a masters degree in IT and business management, and had voluntarily admitted himself as a patient to the hospital, but hours later officers were called to restrain him following a disturbance.

He was taken to Croydon University Hospital after slipping into a coma from which he never recovered, and died days later on September 3.

The review will examine all aspects of police interaction including call handling and custody procedures, as well as how the police work alongside partner agencies.

The Commission will be led by Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of the social enterprise Turning Point.

But Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, a charity that offers advice and support on contentious deaths, said the charity were concerned about the effectives of the review.

She said: "The review has been commissioned without any prior consultation or discussion with those best placed to speak from experience: families and organisations such as Inquest that work directly with them.

"Seni Lewis died two years ago following a prolonged restraint by police, face down, while in the care of mental health services.

"Many serious questions need to be answered about his death. It is crucial experiences like that of Seni Lewis' family are at the heart of any review of mental health policing."

The commission's recommendations will be presented to the Metropolitan Police Service next February, and a report will be made public.

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