Warning: This article deals with self-harm.
The police watchdog has found officers used unnecessary excessive force on a Tauranga woman last year.
She attempted self-harm twice in a custody unit in 2019.
According to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), one of the officers punched her in the cheek after she attempted to bite him.
"The woman was arrested for fighting and placed in the back of a patrol car where she struggled with officers," the authority said in a statement.
"One of the officers used excessive force, punching her in the cheek after she attempted to bite him. The woman was then placed in a spit hood, which was justifiable in the circumstances."
But the IPCA says police failed to check alerts about the woman in the database when they arrived at the custody unit.
"This meant they did not consider her history of self-harming and put an appropriate plan in place to keep her safe.
"The woman went on to attempt to strangle herself twice, once with the spit hood and once with a sweatshirt. Following both attempts, a number of officers applied significant physical force to restrain the woman.
"Officers should have placed the woman in a tear-resistant gown following her attempt to self-harm and should not have left her sitting in the restraint chair with no trousers on."
In response to the IPCA report, police acknowledged more could have been done to make sure the woman was checked properly.
"The issues highlighted in the report have been raised with the staff involved and the need to adhere to policies in place has been reinforced," Bay of Plenty District Commander Supt Andy McGregor said.
He said police started a national custody programme earlier this year to deliver an "effective, safe and transparent" service.
Where to find help and support:
- Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
- Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
- Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
- What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
- Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email email@example.com or online chat
- Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584