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One officer convicted while a second cleared in Taser assault split court decision

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But deputy chief argues 'both officers were responding to challenging situation involving rail staff safety fears'.

British Transport Police: Investigation conducted by the IOPC

British Transport Police: Investigation conducted by the IOPC

Date - 25th April 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
3 Comments3 Comments}

 

Officers confronting “difficult judgments” over how much force to use when responding to people fearing for their safety is a continuing challenge to policing, a deputy chief believes.

The argument comes in the wake of a split decision by a court that convicted one police constable of assaulting a man with a Taser while clearing a second involved in the same incident.

British Transport Police PC Andrew Spiby had denied common assault after an incident at Derby railway station in May last year but was found guilty at Birmingham Magistrates' Court and will be sentenced on June 10.

However, co-defendant PC John Severns was acquitted of a similar offence after a two-day trial.

The court heard officers were called to reports of a disturbance involving a group of people on one of the station platforms.

Two men were arrested at the scene and Derby-based PC Spiby deployed a Taser on one of the men, who also had incapacitant spray used on him twice by PC Severns.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said the case had been referred to them after the man involved complained about the level of force used on him, and the effect of the incident on other members of his family who were present at the scene.

A report from their investigation found PC Spiby and PC Severns, from Nottingham station, had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: "This was a serious incident which was witnessed by onlookers, including several young people.

"Police are entitled to use force but only if it is necessary, reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

"The public have to have confidence that officers will conduct themselves appropriately and in this case the court took the view that Pc Spiby did not do so."

But BTP Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock argued: "The use of force by police officers, including deploying a Taser device, can often be a difficult judgment and it is understandable that in some cases independent scrutiny is necessary.

"However, it is important to remember that in this particular case, both officers were responding to a challenging situation where members of rail staff feared for their safety, and called officers to assist.

“That said, clearly on this occasion the court felt that excessive force was used and found PC Spiby guilty of common assault.

PC Spiby now faces an agonising wait on the court sentencing hearing and possible misconduct hearing.

DCC Hanstock added: “We will now review the findings of the court, and any potential misconduct action will be proportionate to the full circumstances the officers encountered."

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