Police apologise for 'significant failings' over death of Leon Briggs

  • Watch our report from Matthew Hudson

A police chief has apologised for "significant failings" after an inquest jury found the death of a mixed-race man was partly caused by the way officers restrained him.

More than seven years after his death, an inquest jury found the force and technique used by Bedfordshire Police officers in restraining Leon Briggs face down on the pavement before taking him into custody "more than minimally contributed to his death".

However the family of Leon Briggs said the fact the jury's conclusion fell short of a verdict of unlawful killing has "not brought the closure we wanted"

  • Hear the full family statement read by lawyer Gimhani Eriyagolla

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Leon's mother Margaret Briggs Credit: ITV Anglia

The family's lawyer, reading a statement outside the court on behalf of Mr Briggs' mother Margaret Briggs, who stood nearby with other members of the family, said there is "no justice". "Seven and half years ago, my life changed forever, when my son Leon was cruelly and brutally taken away. On this day, his children lost a devoted and much-loved father. Since then, all we have wanted, is to know how a vulnerable man who needed help could end up dead in police custody. Over the last seven-and-a-half years, we have faced what can only be described as a travesty of justice. There is no justice for people like Leon. Instead of learning lessons from what happened, the police have closed ranks, they have tried to disrupt and derail the investigation from the start. During this inquest, we have heard evidence that has convinced my family and me, that Leon was unlawfully killed by the police - this should have been the verdict today."

Leon Briggs

An inquest jury found the way in which police officers restrained father-of-two Leon Briggs "more than minimally" contributed to his death in Luton in 2013.

The 39-year-old lorry driver was detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to Luton police station in handcuffs and leg restraints on 4 November 2013.

He died around two hours later at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital of "amphetamine intoxication in association with prone restraint and prolonged struggling", with a secondary cause of heart disease.

  • Hear the full statement from Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst

In a statement following the inquest Bedfordshire Police said the force is 'truly sorry' for the significant failings which contributed to the death of Leon Briggs The statement from Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst says: "The family and friends of Leon Briggs have had to wait far too long to hear all the facts surrounding his death and our thoughts are of course with them at this very difficult time. The jury has today identified a number of significant failings by the police which contributed to the death of Mr Briggs and for this we are truly sorry. This inquest focused on a period of 36 minutes as we responded to public concerns for Mr Briggs who was suffering a drug-induced psychosis triggered by amphetamine levels described by one expert as being ‘off the scale’. Unbeknown to officers he also had a serious underlying heart condition. There is no easy way of managing such a situation. The attending officers chose to restrain him so he could be taken to a police custody suite where he could be assessed. By the time it became apparent that he was a medical emergency it was too late to save him, despite their concerted efforts. We’ve made extensive changes since 2013 but we remain absolutely committed to working with the coroner and all of our partners in order to identify and make any necessary further improvements."

The Bedfordshire Police Federation, which represents officers, says it hopes the verdict brings some answers to Leon's family.

  • Hear the full statement from Emma Carter, secretary of Bedfordshire Police Federation

In a statement the federation said: "The outcome today means our Bedfordshire Police colleagues can finally get on with their careers and lives having been scrutinised for their actions in November 2013 for more than seven years. Police officers are out there every day fulfilling a difficult and challenging role on behalf of society. They have no issue with being held accountable - we are the most accountable of public services. But how can it be just or justified to have your lives put on hold for so long? The Crown Prosecution Service, The Independent Office for Police Conduct, and now a public inquest - held in front of a jury - have all thoroughly probed this incident. Six colleagues were suspended from duty for more than five years as part of this process. A cloud has unfairly been hanging over them since 2013. This has changed their lives; their family's lives and the officer's careers immeasurably. This now thankfully concludes today, and we hope this also brings some long-awaited answers for Leon's family."

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has offered its "deepest condolences" to the family of Leon Briggs following the inquest.

Mr Briggs was detained by police under the Mental Health Act, on Marsh Road in Luton, where paramedics attended but failed to check his vital signs or give police advice when they restrained him in a dangerous face-down position for 13 minutes.

In a statement the trust said his medical assessment fell below the standards they would expect