Live updates

Chunk of severed ear found after street fight

A chunk of severed ear has been found lying in the street after a city centre brawl.

Staff at Sunderland Royal Infirmary alerted police to the find after taking a call from a man saying he had found the piece of flesh in the centre, just minutes from the University of Sunderland campus, shortly before 7am yesterday.

The chunk of ear was found near the scene of a fight in the city centre Credit: Google Maps

It is thought to be linked to a fight in Derwent Street less than two hours earlier.

Anyone with any information about the incident is urged to contact officers as soon as possible.

Seven men and a woman arrested over sexual assaults

Detectives from Northumbria Police have launched an investigation called “Operation Sanctuary” following information about a series of sexual assaults involving a number of men from a range of communities and female victims.

A dedicated team of specialist officers has been set up and, as part of the investigation, searches are being carried out on properties, predominantly in Newcastle, but also in other locations across the force area.

Eleven properties were searched this morning and eight people arrested (seven men and one woman) for conspiracy to rape.

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Police offer condolences after death in custody

Northumbria Police has offered its condolences to relatives of a 43-year-old man who died in police custody today.

The man, who has not been named, was arrested on warrant on Thursday at his home in Houghton.

He was taken into custody after failing to appear at Gateshead Magistrates' Court on Tuesday for possessing an offensive weapon, and was seen by police doctors during his time in custody, the force said.

Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth said:

We offer our sincere condolences to this man's family and friends at what is clearly a difficult time for them.

Any death in police custody irrespective of the circumstances must be immediately referred to the IPCC and we are working with them to fully assist with their investigation.

Deaths in police custody are fortunately relatively uncommon and there were no custody deaths in the Northumbria Police area last year.

Investigation as 43-year-old man dies in police custody

A probe has been launched after a 43-year-old man died in police custody today.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed it is investigating the death at Washington Police Station in Northumbria in the early hours of this morning.

The man, who has not been named, had been arrested on a warrant on Thursday for failing to appear at court and was being held in police cells pending a court appearance, the IPCC said.

An IPCC spokesman added:

The available records indicate police officers requested the attendance of a police doctor in the evening on Friday 29 March and an ambulance was called at around 11:30 pm.

The man was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead where he was pronounced dead at around 1am today.

His next of kin have been informed and a post-mortem will take place later this afternoon. IPCC family liaison managers will meet with the man's family at the earliest opportunity to explain our role and to update them on our investigation.

Northumbria Police: Don't travel on roads unless necessary

Northumbria Police is urging people to take extreme care due to the severe weather conditions in the region.

Latest advice is not to travel on the roads unless necessary - there has been a number of collisions on the roads due to people driving too fast, aquaplaning and not driving according to conditions.

Anyone stuck in flooding in their car is asked to try and stay with their vehicle where possible.

– Northumbria Police