The police watchdog has identified a catalogue of errors by officers at the Durham force in Peterlee.
The announcement came after an investigation into the death of a man from Seaham, who died in police custody shortly after being arrested in 2010.
An inquest into his death resulted in a verdict of misadventure.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission described the actions of the police officers, who were there, as "wholly inadequate."
The officers involved in the incident now face misconduct hearings where they could be dismissed from the force.
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