Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Why Was Jenna Let Go? 21-Year-Old Had Made Threats to Harm Herself

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Why Was Jenna Let Go? 21-Year-Old Had Made Threats to Harm Herself

Article excerpt

Byline: RUTH LAWSON

A POLICE officer who discharged Jenna Latham from custody just hours before she fell to her death admitted he may have done things differently if it happened now.

Sgt Murray was running the custody suite at Byker when 21-year-old Jenna was brought in for being drunk and disorderly on September 9, 2011.

She was held for five hours during which time she made numerous threats to harm herself, including attempting to tie a jumper round her neck and also wrapping her hair around her throat.

Jenna, a former Newcastle College drama student, was assessed as being a level three detainee, which meant she was under constant CCTV supervision as well as having regular half hour cell checks.

But an inquest into her death this week has seen questions arise as to why Sgt Murray didn't call a Force Medical Officer (FMO) to come and assess her - a procedure which is part of Home Office and Northumbria Police guidelines.

Jenna's mum, Lynne Latham, had also phoned the custody desk twice and spoken to Custody Investigating Officer Karen Usher to express concerns over her daughter's mental health.

Continuing his second day of giving evidence, Sgt Murray yesterday told the court that if a similar situation were to occur now, he may respond differently.

But he added: "If I was to phone an FMO for everybody that comes into a police station under the influence of alcohol, the FMO would never leave the station, therefore it's not practical and therefore we have to take a sensible approach."

Detention officer Brian Forest, who was also on duty the day Jenna was arrested, was charged with carrying out half-hourly checks on Jenna's cell and he recalled having a conversation once Jenna had sobered up in which she told him she might be pregnant.

Jenna was eventually released from custody at around 2. …

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