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Federation says 'trial by social media' undermining use of legitimate force


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Plea for public 'to put down their phones' and help officers rather than filming incidents.


Date - 23rd January 2020
By - Gary Mason

The Police Federation has said officers should not face ‘trial via social media’ after a Met DC was cleared of assaulting a teenager with his baton.

Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “We are pleased that DC Kevin Rowley has rightly been found innocent of the charges inexplicably brought against him over this incident.”

Detective Constable Kevin Rowley was charged with assault by beating following the incident on April 22 last year, when he struck the male five times with his baton after he and a colleague stopped two youths on Heath Park Road in Romford, east London.

Mobile phone footage taken by a member of the public was played to Hendon Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The footage, taken from a passing car and widely shared on social media, showed members of the public shouting at DC  Rowley to stop as the teenager cried out for help.

The court heard DC Rowley and another officer attempted to carry out a stop and search after he spotted the 18-year-old, who was 17 at the time, holding a "wad of cash" while walking with another youth.

The 37-year-old said he and his colleague, who were both in plain clothes, told the pair they were going to search them for drugs after apparently smelling cannabis.

DC Rowley told the court he repeatedly asked the youth to take his hands out of his pocket, where he was reaching for a Samsung mobile phone.

He said after taking the phone, he put the teenager in a headlock, took him to the floor and took hold of his wrists, as the other police officer chased the other youth as he fled.

"I'm now alone with an agitated and aggressive male who is not complying and made it clear from the start with his words of, 'you ain't searching me, I know my rights'," DC Rowley told the court.

He said that he told the youth to calm down and explained he was handcuffing him for his safety, which resulted in a struggle between the pair.

"At first I thought that had worked," he said, "He just lost it. He got more aggressive and got to his feet."

DC Rowley told the court he had delivered "two to three" knee strikes to the teenager to the thigh, adding: "I wasn't trying to hurt him. All I was trying to do was detain him."

On why he used his baton, he said: "I had gone through handcuffs, verbal commands, knee strikes - my only option was to draw my baton."

He said he used his baton to strike him "five times on the thigh as per our officer safety training".

The incident was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Giving evidence, eyewitness Anthony Bailey, who lives across from the incident, said Rowley looked as if he was "trying to restrain" the teenager.

Speaking after the verdict Mr Marsh said:  “What this case has once again shown is that it’s vital in 2020 that my hard-working colleagues are not judged and juried by Social Media - a short clip of an incident does not always tell the full policing story.

“Police officers are trained and legally entitled to use force to keep themselves and the public safe - and every officer who does use force knows they have to justify their actions.

 “We would repeat our pleas for people to put down their phones and help our colleagues rather than filming our brave police officers doing what is an incredibly difficult and frankly dangerous job on the streets of London. 

“We thank DC Rowley’s legal team Reynolds Dawson Solicitors and Three Raymond Buildings Barristers for their hard work.”

Commander Catherine Roper, from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, said: “Footage of this incident was circulated on social media and caused concern due to the force used against the male arrested.

“We made a referral to the IOPC to allow an independent investigation to take place into all the circumstances as it is only right to maintain confidence on how we police London.

“Use of force is a tactic police must use responsibly. A court has decided today that DC Rowley’s actions were lawful. We have received the IOPC’s report into this incident and are liaising with them about any misconduct proceedings.”

DC Rowley remains on restricted duties.

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The fear of being thrown under the bus by command and cps through their own fear of public perception is very real. 

Force is used up and down the country without issue.

But if one important person gets upset about it, if the media make stacks of money by stoking whatever hatred they can, or its a contentious ethnicity combination, then its in front of the bus you go. 

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