The IPCC watchdog group asked for better inter-agency guidelines after reviewing the death of a suspected thief in Plymouth's Sutton Harbour.

A review of circumstances surrounding the death of Darren Wakefield during a police chase in Plymouth in October 2014 has sparked a plea from the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A father of three, Wakefield, 35 at the time of his death, drowned after jumping into Sutton Harbour while being pursued by police. Wakefield had become trapped between a deteriorating ship moored in the harbour and a harbour wall.

Confusion surrounding jurisdiction and the Ministry of Defence Police force’s role in helping local police forces meant that a police boat was not sent to the scene.

The IPCC investigation found that both Devon and Cornwall Police officers as well as Ministry of Defence police acted professionally but the watchdog group made recommendations to the National Police Chiefs Council about issuing clearer guidance to all forces involved with water rescues.

IPCC Associate Commissioner Tom Milsom said in a statement: “Following today’s inquest finding my first thoughts are with Darren’s family and friends.

“The IPCC investigation found that officers involved in the initial pursuit and subsequent rescue attempts of Mr Wakefield acted within professional guidelines. We have, though, advised the NPCC that all forces should have better guidelines for working with other agencies when dealing with water rescues.”

Mr Wakefield, was being pursued after a bike theft from nearby Plymouth Hoe on the morning of 12 October 2014 when the incident occurred.

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