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IOPC recommendations - serious injury with detainee

The Independent Office for Police Complaints (formerly the IPCC) makes learning recommendations to the police, or other relevant organisations, after IOPC investigations. Recommendations can include improving practice, updating policy or changes to training.

Serious injury with detainee

IOPC reference:


Date of recommendation:

Tuesday, 9 March 2021


A detainee sustained a serious injury following his arrest and detention for drunk and disorderly behaviour. Thedetainee was handcuffed to the rear and seated on the bench inside a police van when the cage doors were closed.The officer closing the cage door stopped once notified by another officer but not before the detainee had receivedan injury to the middle finger on his left hand. The officers provided first aid and transported him to hospital. Here itwas confirmed he had received a cut to the bed of the nail, loss of finger nail and a fracture to the tip of the finger.


The IOPC recommends that the National Association for Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) shares advice andguidance on the use of finger trap shields in police vehicles. This should specifically relate to any vehicle fitted with acage used to transport detained persons.

This follows a case where an individual who was calm and compliant was placed in the back of a police van. Whenthe doors were shut, he sustained a serious injury having got his finger trapped in the cage door hinge. During theconsultation period with the NAPFM, the IOPC have been made aware of work that has already begun to highlightthis issue and develop guidance.

Accepted action:

This was raised to the NAPFM technical group, which prompted the following actions:

  • The national Technical specifications, as attached (used for any national procurement for current and future cellvans), includes a specific requirement for "anti-finger-trap design hinge". This element will remain a requirement infuture designs.
  • All fleet managers have been made aware of the issue and asked to check their current cell van fleet.
  • A fleet manager helpfully shared the rubber guard and signage used by West-Midlands Police, and this has also beencirculated as good practice.
  • This is now business as usual, and picked up by the response cell van specification.

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