A probe has been launched after a 50-year-old North East man died in police custody.

Following his arrest, the man fell ill and despite attempts to safe his life, he died just a few hours after he was detained by officers.

He was arrested on Whitby Street, Hartlepool, on Tuesday (June 20) before being transferred to Middlesbrough police station shortly before 10am.

Whilst in custody, the man fell ill and an ambulance was called at 12.35pm but he was pronounced dead at 1pm.

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Cleveland Police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.

The IOPC sent investigators to the custody suite to begin reviewing evidence by obtaining CCTV footage and initial accounts from the officers and staff involved.

IOPC Regional Director Emily Barry said: “This was a tragic incident in which a man has sadly died and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

“Cleveland Police referred this matter to us, and as he was in the custody of police at the time he became unwell, it is important there is a thorough and independent investigation. We will examine all relevant matters including the interaction officers had with the man when he was detained, and what happened once he arrived at the custody suite.

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“We have made contact with his family to explain our role and will keep them up to date as our enquiries progress.”

IOPC investigators will also be reviewing any other relevant CCTV footage and anyone who may be able to assist with our enquiries is asked to contact the IOPC via witness@policeconduct.gov.uk or 0800 096 9076.

The force has been asked for a comment.