New charge over death of Thomas Orchard in custody

The Office of the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police has been charged with an offence contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Thomas Orchard.

Thomas Orchard surrounded by police officers in a cell at Heavitree Road Police Station. Credit: Police footage

32-year-old Thomas Orchard, a paranoid schizophrenic, was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence on a street in Exeter in October 2012.

While being restrained at Heavitree Road Police Station the church caretaker suffered brain damage and a cardiac arrest. He died a week later.

The charge comes after an investigation into the use of the Emergency Response Belt when detaining Mr Orchard. Credit: ITV West Country

Evidence was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the investigation, which was assisted by the Health and Safety Executive, in respect of the force’s corporate decision-making surrounding the use of the Emergency Response Belt.

After considering the file, the CPS has decided to charge the Office of the Chief Constable with an offence under sections 3 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.