15 February 2018

The family of Thomas Orchard said:

"We welcome today’s direction by the IOPC, to Devon and Cornwall Police, to hold disciplinary hearings for gross misconduct for four police officers and two custody officers in relation to Thomas’ death.

Since the trial a year ago, in which one of the officers and the two custody officers were found not guilty of manslaughter, our family has been shocked and outraged by the Force’s persistent refusal to hold disciplinary hearings to establish if their staff seriously breached professional standards. 

We now urge Devon and Cornwall Police to: hold the hearings swiftly and without further dispute; to consider asking another force to present the case; and to open the proceedings to the public. Only by holding open, honest and transparent hearings can our family’s confidence be restored and the public interest be served. We hope that the media and public will join us to demand rigour and fairness from this process. Unfortunately, the law does not enable the hearing to be presided over by a genuinely independent chair; Parliament only introduced that option in more recent cases.

We need the actions of the officers involved scrutinised in an open and honest manner because truth, accountability and a willingness to change practices are essential if such needless deaths are to be prevented in the future. We still remain hopeful that Thomas’ death has not been in vain and that lessons can be learned from it."