THE death of a man who became ill shortly after being stopped and searched by police is being investigated by an independent watchdog.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has launched an investigation and is appealing for witnesses after mobility scooter-riding Peter Howieson died after being stopped by officers in Blackburn town centre on March 24.

It is understood that 52-year-old Mr Howieson was approached and spoken to by a police officer on Higher Church Street in the town at around 10.30am.

He was then stopped and searched on suspicion of drugs offences.

However, during the encounter Mr Howieson became unwell and was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital where he was pronounced dead later the same day.

Lancashire Police informed the IOPC of the incident the same morning and the watchdog began gathering relevant information and CCTV.

Initial accounts from the police constable involved and two security guards who were present have also since been gathered.

IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe said: “I send my condolences to Mr Howieson’s family and everyone affected by this sad event.

“In circumstances where a man has died soon after being detained by a police officer it is appropriate that we thoroughly investigate to establish what happened.

“We are keen that anyone who saw what happened on Higher Church Street that morning comes forward.”

It is understood that the police officer involved has not been suspended and is continuing with normal duties.

Lancashire Police declined to comment on the incident.

Anyone with information or anybody who witnessed the incident should contact the IOPC on 0800 151 0018 or e-mail