Lifesaving grab lines have been installed under Kingston Bridge in South West London six months after a man drowned while being arrested by police. Labourer Liam Allan, 23, of Filby Road, went into the River Thames as officers tried to arrest him outside Bill's restaurant on Riverside Walk on Friday August 26 around 10:30pm.
Liam's body was pulled from the water two hours later, and - as with any death following police contact - the incident was referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) who are expected to make a finding in the coming months. At the time Liam's dad James Allan told MyLondon he was "disgusted" after he claimed a lifebuoy wasn't thrown for his son.
Police said they were responding to reports of him arguing with a woman and went to arrest him after an allegation of theft was made. He was not in handcuffs as he went into the water. A statement released by the IOPC after reviewing body-worn camera footage said Liam "ran down some steps from Riverside Walk into the water and began swimming away".
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In light of the tragedy grab lines have been put around the arches at the base of the bridge, making it easier for anyone who ends up in the water to hold on - potentially saving their life. It's thought Liam went through an arch as he struggled against the dangerous currents, before he was sadly found dead on the riverbed in the same spot he was last seen shouting for help.
Liam's step-mum Leanne told MyLondon: "James and myself are grateful for the lines being installed, but it's a shame something so simple wasn't already in place. It makes sense to have something so effective in place at all major bridges and these are what could have saved Liam's life when he was yelling for help so close to arch.
"It's nice to know that they will save other people in the future, and that will all be down to Liam, he has left a legacy that'll never be forgotten. It's a big step forward in the saving of other lives." Liam's family say they will now fight for the grab lines to be installed on bridges across London to avoid another tragedy.
At the time of Liam's death, IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “I want to express our condolences to Liam Allan’s family and friends and all those affected by his death.
“We are aware of speculation surrounding how Liam came to enter the water. Having viewed the relevant police body worn video, we have advised his family and can confirm that Liam ran down some steps from Riverside Walk into the water and began swimming away into the river immediately after being advised he was being arrested. Emergency assistance from the Coastguard, National Police Air Service (NPAS) and the London Fire Brigade was quickly requested by one of the officers.
“However, we need to establish all of the contact the police had with Liam on that evening. We would like to speak to anyone who may have seen police officers speaking with a male, or a small group of people, on or near the vicinity of Kingston Bridge between 10.30pm and 11.15pm on Friday 26 August.
“Given the contact police officers had with Liam before he died, it is important that a thorough and independent investigation is carried out to establish the full circumstances and examine the interaction between Liam and any officer before he entered the river.”
The Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor added: "My thoughts, and those of the Metropolitan Police Service, are with the friends and family of the man who has sadly lost his life following this incident. I fully appreciate the public will be very concerned. We of course share that concern.
"The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards made an immediate referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct as is protocol in any incident in which a person comes to harm following police contact. We will fully support the IOPC's investigation."
Anyone who witnessed this incident is asked to contact the IOPC investigation team by phoning 0300 303 5734 or emailing [email protected]
Got a crime or policing story? Please email [email protected] or WhatsApp 07580255582
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