IPCC clears officers over collapse

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The Independent Online

Three police officers did all they could to save a woman who died after collapsing in a locked toilet, the police watchdog said today.

Sushma Kaur, 25, collapsed at her home in Gordon Street, Ilford, east London, on January 23, 2009 after being given a preliminary diagnosis of epilepsy following several incidents of losing consciousness.

Following an investigation into the involvement of Metropolitan Police officers who were unable to reach her immediately due to the locked door, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded they did everything they could to try to reach her.

Ms Kaur's nine-year-old son alerted a neighbour that she had collapsed inside a locked toilet, and they called police and the ambulance service when they could not open it themselves.

When police arrived they too were unable to open the door and had to wait until other officers with specialist equipment arrived.

Ms Kaur was taken to King George Hospital but could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at 6.20pm.

At the inquest into her death in February last year a consultant neurologist said he believed she would still have been alive if police had broken the door down and reached her immediately.

The coroner took the decision to adjourn the inquest and requested that the Metropolitan Police Service refer the case to the IPCC.

The subsequent investigation found that the first officer arrived at the scene three minutes after the initial 999 call and banged on the door and tried to get into the bathroom.

A short time later two other officers arrived and also tried to get the door open.

They then looked for other ways of accessing the room and for tools that may help but at 4.58pm they called for specialist equipment.

The equipment arrived at approximately 5.10pm and the door was opened immediately.

Officers helped ambulance staff to get Ms Kaur out of the flat and into the ambulance.

The neighbour who called police described the officers who tried to get the door open from the moment they arrived as "brilliant".

She told the IPCC: "I hadn't expected them to turn up so fast. I felt the officers were in control of everything, they were in control but they were also calm. There were in control of the situation, they were there to do their job and they did it well."

A member of London Ambulance Service also said: "There was a clear sense of urgency to get in, the police could not have done more."