'Doting father' Paul's restraint death at Pontins prompts police review of training
- Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY/PA WIRE
Police training is to be overhauled after the death of a Colchester father-of-three who was unlawfully restrained at a Suffolk seaside resort.
Paul Reynolds was held face down for 11 minutes with a knee on his back after an initial neck hold following a reported assault at Pontins Pakefield on Valentine's Day 2017, inquest jurors heard in May.
When officers arrived at the resort near Lowestoft they did not establish whether Mr Reynolds, who was heard snoring, was unconscious and struggling to breathe or sleeping, Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich was told.
They also did not turn off music blaring in the communal hall, where Mr Reynolds was being restrained.
The 38-year-old was carried to a police van and on their way to Great Yarmouth custody, officers had to carry out CPR.
The "gentle giant" and "devoted father" died two days later on February 16 at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.
Responding to the prevention of future deaths report drawn up by area coroner Jacqueline Devonish after the inquest, Suffolk’s chief constable Steve Jupp admitted his officers’ assessment of the scene was “not robust”.
Training already in place would have directed officers to “assess the person being detained and review the evidence”, he said.
“It was clear from the inquest that the officers involved did not fulfil this assessment robustly and we acknowledge that their evidence identified confusion surrounding their police powers,” he added.
Ms Devonish’s report, which was also issued to Pontins’ owner Britannia Jinky Jersey Ltd, warned that officers had mistakenly failed to use pain or pressure testing to determine if Mr Reynolds had been unconscious or asleep.
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Mr Jupp said the Constabulary has now boosted its training to ensure they recognise proportionate applications of force and understand when to carry out necessary health checks.
Time allowed for training had also reduced but Mr Jupp said Suffolk’s offering remained within College of Policing guidelines.
Despite the reduction, he said the force is doing more to embed specific training on positional asphyxia - which occurs when a person is placed in a posture that prevents normal breathing - through supplementary videos and online training systems.
The chief constable said he accepts concerns raised around the control of the scene, including not switching off music, with the force planning scenario-based assessments to ensure officers understand medical responsibilities and use of force powers.
Following the inquest, Mr Reynolds’ family paid tribute to a “loving man” and “doting father”.
His partner Carrie Bennett said: "After four years of anguish it is with huge relief and gratitude to this jury that the family and friends of Paul can finally see that the truth has come out, of how he met his death.
"Paul was our big, loveable, larger-than-life gentle giant.”