Poor training and unqualified staff led to father's death, report claims

Paul Gladwell, from Colchester, died at Pontins Pakefield

Paul Gladwell, a Colchester dad-of-three, died at Pontins in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, on Valentine's Day 2017 - Credit: Archant/Supplied by family

Poor training, uncertainty and inaccurate information could have contributed to the death of a father-of-three on holiday, a new report has claimed.

Paul Reynolds, from Colchester, died two days after an incident at Pontins Pakefield, with a jury inquest earlier this month finding his death was "unlawful" and the result of a "dangerous" restraint.

The inquest found police officers who attended the scene had failed to identify that Mr Reynolds, who had been held in a prone restraint by three Pontins staff members for 11 minutes, was unconscious.

Undated family handout photo of Paul Reynolds with his partner Carrie Bennett. Mr Reynolds died afte

Undated family handout photo of Paul Reynolds with his partner Carrie Bennett. Mr Reynolds died after he was restrained at a Pontins holiday park after his partner accosted a guest whose child was allegedly hitting their son, an inquest heard. Issue date: Monday April 19, 2021. - Credit: PA/SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Area coroner Jaqueline Devonish raised four concerns with Suffolk Police, as well as a further eight to Britannia Hotels, owner of Pontins, in separate Prevention of Future Deaths reports released this week.

These concerns highlighted that police officers "appeared to be under the impression that pain/pressure testing to determine whether a person was unconscious or simply asleep was an assault, rather than being justifiable in certain circumstances." 

It also noted how training had been reduced from 12 to 4.25 hours, although positional asphyxia training had been ringfenced, while recommendations have been made to revise the curriculum.

READ MORE: CCTV shows moment father who died was restrained by Pontins security staff

The report also criticises officers for failing to control the scene and clear the ballroom, including switching off music, after a survivability expert told the inquest said his "deterioration may have been missed because of the difficult circumstances in which he was being assessed."

Addressing Britannia, Ms Devonish noted Pontins offers no training for security staff, while unqualified staff were allowed to take part in the restraint and staff were unclear of who should take charge of the situation.

READ MORE: Partner's tribute to 'doting father' after inquest rules his death unlawful

She also noted the lack of accurate information passed to police, with officers incorrectly told Mr Reynolds had been "very violent" and was pretending to sleep, while staff were also criticised for not monitoring his breathing or placing him in the recovery position.

Paul Reynolds, from Colchester

Paul Reynolds, from Colchester, who died after being restrained at Pontins in Pakefield - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY/PA WIRE

At the inquest, Pontins staff claimed Mr Reynolds was "wriggling, resisting, talking and murmuring" while restrained, the report notes.

Following the inquest, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed two of the attending officers will face a gross incompetency hearing, while a third officer has already resigned. 

A spokesperson for Suffolk Police said: “We are obliged to respond to the coroner regarding this in the first instance, so it would be inappropriate to comment publicly on the specific points until this response has been given, but appropriate action will be taken to address these concerns.

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“As stated following the conclusion of the inquest, a review of our first aid training took place and changes were implemented following Mr Reynolds’ death in 2017.

"These processes continue to be scrutinised and updated where appropriate, in line with the guidance from the College of Policing.

“Suffolk Constabulary is committed to ensuring officers are fully trained to deal with any issues which are likely to arise during the course of their duties.

“Our sympathies remain with Mr Reynolds’ family for their loss.”

Pontins have been contacted for comment.

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