A top police constable has apologised for the death of a Reading man who overdosed on heroin in a police cell, admitting officers breached his human rights.

Thames Valley Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg has issued a lengthy apology to the family of Leroy Junior Medford some five years after his death.

Mr Medford died in a cell of the Loddon Valley Police Station on April 2, 2017.

He died of a heroin overdose, which was revealed during an inquest in 2019.

Although Mr Medford took the drug himself, police have accepted failings in monitoring him during his stay in custody.

Recently, Thames Valley Police admitted that it breached his right to life, Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Deputy Chief Constable Hogg said: “We continue to offer our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr Medford who died in tragic circumstances at Loddon Valley Police Station in 2017.

“Mr Medford died after he swallowed a drugs package containing heroin that he had secreted about his person prior to his arrest.

“The officers charged with undertaking constant observations on Mr Medford failed adequately to do so.

“At an inquest in 2019, the Coroner expressed concerns that there was insufficient awareness of the requirement that in these circumstances an officer should remain in the cell with the detained person.

“The Coroner subsequently confirmed in her ruling that additional training and awareness had taken place since Mr Medford’s death and prior to the Inquest. The Coroner also expressed her concerns more generally regarding training of police officers, which have also been addressed.

“Thames Valley Police will always seek to learn from serious incidents and a full review of our policy was undertaken with changes made to how officers are briefed on observing detainees and the procedure to take if someone is believed to have drugs on them.

“We recently contacted Mr Medford’s family to acknowledge that Thames Valley Police breached Article 2 of the ECHR in relation to Mr Medford and members of his family.

“While doing so we have also extended our sincere condolences and acknowledged the grief and distress suffered by Mr Medford’s family in the five years since his tragic death.”

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Medford’s sister Marilyn Medford-Hawkins said: “It’s been absolutely devastating for the family.

“It’s affected my health. The people that were supposed to look after Junior neglected him.

“They left him to die.”

Article 2 of the EHCR states the right to life must be protected by law, except in cases of a legal execution, when defending someone from illegal violence or when authorities take legal action to suppress a riot or insurrection.