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No case to answer for officers in police dog bite cases

Chief Bakes

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Watchdog investigated three separate incidents and said officers were justified in deploying the dogs.


The IPCC has found no case to answer in three separate incidents in which a member of the public was bitten by a police dog.

In recently published findings, the watchdog investigated the case of Stuart Finbow, a 35-year-old man bitten by a South Yorkshire Police dog on June 30 2016.

Mr Finbow, who spent seven hours on the day of the incident drinking in a pub, complained he “could not understand” the force’s decision to send a police officer with a police dog to the scene.

He was bitten by the dog after officers were called to the property of his former partner after he turned up on her doorstep.

Although the dog handler was not one of two officers originally deployed to the scene, he said he was also able to attend as he was passing on the way to another incident.

He first deployed his dog as a “non-use of force deployment” in order to look for Mr Finbow, who had made his way to the wooded area behind the house.

When he was located, the handler said he believed his colleague, PC Nelson, was about to be assaulted by Mr Finbow and so released the dog and gave him the command to hold him.

The dog bit his right leg from behind for “no more than two or three seconds”, said the handler, but he sustained a more serious injury than expected.

In a statement to the IPCC, Mr Nelson also said he believed Mr Finbar was about to attack him because he had his arms by his sides with his elbows slightly raised, his fists clenched and his chest puffed out in a threatening manner.

The IPCC found the officer’s use of his dog and use of force was “appropriate and proportionate” in the circumstances.

The watchdog also investigated an incident in neighbouring force West Yorkshire Police, in which 46-year-old Mark Booth was bitten on his arm by a police dog.

Mr Booth, who lived in a residential complex for people with mental issues and/or alcohol dependency, was located by police after a member of the public called 999 to say he was sitting in his front yard and would not leave, despite being asked to do so.

PC McKeown, a dog handler with the force, was the first to arrive on the scene and said Mr Booth’s behaviour was “irrational and unpredictable”, that he refused to comply with instructions and that he kept putting his hands in his pockets.

When another officer attempted to search Mr Booth, a struggle ensued which also involved PC McKeown and the dog went forward and locked on to Mr Booth’s left forearm, leaving him with deep lacerations requiring a skin graft.

The IPCC found the officer had given no instruction to the dog but it was reacting to the threat to itself and the handler. There was no case to answer.

In the final case, the watchdog examined a case in South Wales Police in which a man, known only as Mr J, was bitten on the testicles by a police dog.

Mr J was a passenger in a van which sped away from a police officer, with the vehicle at one stage deliberately reversing at speed and almost trapping the officer between the van and the police car.

When other officers arrived and detained the driver of the van, the dog handler deployed the dog to detain Mr J who had escaped from the vehicle and was running away.

He told the dog to hold him, but as he got close to Mr J, he turned around and the dog made contact with his stomach area.

The officer said he deployed the dog because he did not know Mr J’s intentions, because he was of a large build and over six foot, because he made off when asked to stop and because he was “aggressive” throughout his interactions with police.

The IPCC concluded his suspicions were reasonable although criticised the force for its delays in referring the incident to them.


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Excellent, clearly the PDs wrote up their statements correctly.

Something along the lines of; "I chase him, I bite him" if I recall correctly.

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The irony is that because the police probably use force a lot less than they could/should in the UK, that when we actually do it's such a big surprise that even criminals think they somehow have a legitimate cause to complain.

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From my experience working with dog handlers there statements re use of force and just in general are exemplary. I suspect this had a massive baring on all of these investigations.

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4 hours ago, NCFPA said:

From my experience working with dog handlers there statements re use of force and just in general are exemplary. I suspect this had a massive baring on all of these investigations.

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If you write things up properly you can justify just about any action. . And if you end up putting someone in hospital then it's statement time. 

I just wish that was a lesson taught to all officers.  

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