A police officer has been found guilty of common assault by beating in connection with the use of force whilst making an arrest in Dursley last year.
PC Richard Smith, aged 49 and from Stroud, was charged with the offence following an investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department.
He appeared at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday for a trial after denying the charge but was found guilty and sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.
He has subsequently been suspended from the Constabulary.
The court heard that at 5.48am on Sunday, November 2 last year a Dursley resident was woken by his dog barking.
On reviewing his CCTV he saw a man had entered his back garden and later walked back out of the garden. The resident then dialled 999 to request police attendance.
PC Smith, who worked in the Stroud local policing team, attended with another officer and detained a man aged in his 40s in connection with the incident. The man was handcuffed and later placed face down on the ground by the officers in attendance.
Bodyworn video shows how PC Smith took hold of the victim’s arm and the handcuffs and pushed his arms up towards his shoulder blades.
Up until the use of this restraint the officer’s actions were justified, however the court determined that at the point this technique was used the man was not offering any threat and therefore the use of force used by PC Smith was neither reasonable or justified. It was therefore considered unlawful.
PC Smith’s account was that the victim’s behaviour had escalated and that he was not responding to or complying with instructions. The officer deemed that the level of force applied was both reasonable and necessary for his and his colleague’s safety, and in order for the detained man to be compliant and be searched.
The man who was detained was subsequently arrested and later released from police custody and faced no further action.
Following today’s hearing, Assistant Chief Constable Rhiannon Kirk said: “This incident will understandably be concerning for anyone to hear.
“Use of force must be justified and reasonable and it has been established in court today that on this occasion the officer’s actions were deemed unlawful.
“PC Smith had been on restricted duties following the charge and has now been suspended pending misconduct proceedings.
“Due to the pending misconduct hearing we cannot comment on this case any further at this time.
“More broadly, we can reassure people that officers are given regular training so that they understand only to use force when it is necessary and how to use the approved techniques. Cases involving the use of force are regularly reviewed and a scrutiny panel, made up of members of the public, feeds back findings on individual incidents.
“Where concerns are raised this can lead to further action or learning for the officers. The minutes of the panel meetings are published regularly on our website, along with statistics around how often we use force, why we have used it and who we have used it on.”