A SHOPLIFTING suspect reportedly set herself on fire in a police van.
The woman’s clothing was alight when she arrived at hospital in the van for mental health checks after being arrested at the Dewsbury Asda store.
A police officer put out the flames, but the 27-year-old woman suffered burns to her back.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the quick reactions of the police stopped the woman being more badly hurt. But investigators are concerned she managed to attempt self-harm while in police custody.
The drama unfolded when the woman was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at Asda at around 5.10pm on Saturday April 9.
She is said to have tried to harm herself in a toilet cubicle at the supermarket after her arrest.
As a result, she was taken to Dewsbury and District Hospital before being transferred under police escort, via Dewsbury police station, to Fieldhead Hospital in Wakefield for a mental health assessment.
But when they arrived they found the woman’s clothing alight. She was taken to Pinderfields Hospital.
West Yorkshire Police referred the matter to the IPCC for an independent investigation.
IPCC commissioner Nicholas Long said: “It is of concern that the woman managed to attempt to self-harm while in police custody and it is therefore important an independent investigation is conducted to examine the circumstances.
“Our investigation will examine all the police interactions with this woman to determine whether policies and procedures were followed, with a focus on how she managed to set herself alight while in the police van.
“It is evident that the quick reactions of the police officers prevented the woman suffering more serious injuries.”
A police spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment, but added: “We do, however, note the comment by Commissioner Long that the quick reactions of the police officers prevented the woman suffering more serious injuries.”