A mentally ill man held in police custody for more than three days without medical care suffered inhumane and degrading treatment, the European Court of Human Rights ruled today.
Judges in Strasbourg ordered the British government to pay the man, identified only as MS, £9,050 in costs and damages over his treatment at a Birmingham police station in December 2004.
In a unanimous verdict said: "The court held in particular that the applicant's prolonged detention without appropriate psychiatric treatment had diminished his human dignity, although there had been no intentional neglect on the part of the police."
The court heard that MS was arrested in Birmingham on December 6 2004 after reports he was sitting in a car in a "highly agitated" state, constantly sounding the horn.
He was held at a police station under the 1983 Mental Health Act, which allow detention for up to 72 hours for medical examination.
After the arrest police found MS's aunt at his house, having allegedly been attacked and injured by him.
Two psychiatrists agreed MS needed hospital care for his own safety and the protection of others but as he was expected to b charged and remanded, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at a "medium secure" clinic decided a transfer was not immediately necessary.
MS remained in police custody for more than 72 hours, where he kept shouting, removing his clothes, banging his head on the wall, drinking from the toilet and smearing himself with food and faeces.
On the second day of detention, it was decided there was not enough evidence to charge him, but it was only on the fourth day that he was removed in handcuffs to a clinic for treatment.
The court said MS's initial arrest and detention were justified and there was no intention by the police or health authorities to breach his human rights.
But it added: "The fact remained that MS had been in a state of great vulnerability throughout his detention at the police station.
"As indicated by all the medical professionals who examined him, he had been in dire need of appropriate psychiatric treatment.
"That situation, which persisted until his transfer to the clinic on the fourth day of his detention, diminished excessively his fundamental human dignity."
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