PC Zhak Burrows Outcome

Outcome published Wed 20th Apr 2022, 33 working days after the hearing ended

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Officer

Standards of professional behavior that have allegedly been breached

  • Use of force

Allegations Proven

  • Use of force

Sanction: Final Written Warning

Summary

Misconduct Proceedings Determination Regulation 43 of The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020
Date: 07-11 March 2021, Chelmsford Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JE

Chairperson: Mr. Karim Akbar KHAN, Legally Qualified Chairperson
Senior Police Officer: Superintendent Neil PUDNEY (Assessor)
Independent Member: Simon PALEY (Independent Panel Member)

Allegations: Please refer to the Regulation 30 Notice for the specific allegations
Allegations relating to Breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour:
Use of Force
Paragraph 11 (Reg. 30)

(1) Used physical force on and/or caused or permitted your police dog to bite a male when this was not necessary, proportionate or reasonable for:

(i) Preventing him from making off;
Findings Proven

(ii) Engaging and/or detaining him on the basis of his preventing a threat;
Findings Proven

(iii) Defending other police officer from him;
Findings Proven

(iv) Protecting members of the public from him; and/or
Findings Proven

(v) Any other policing purpose.
Findings Proven

(2) Failed to de-escalate the matter by withdrawing with your dog, whether before or after using the force as stated above;
Findings Proven

(3) Made threats to use unlawful force against a male as stated above at paragraphs 10(i), (iii) and (vi); and/or,
Findings Not proven

(4) Used such physical force and/or caused or permitted your police dog to bite a male:

(i) Deliberately to subject him to a detriment for spitting at you and/or your dog when you knew such force to be unjustified; or
Findings Not proven

(ii) As an impulsive response to his spitting at you and/or your dog when you ought to have known such force was unjustified.
Findings Not proven

Outcome
FINAL WRITTEN WARNING (no extension of standard period)

SUMMARY BACKGROUND
1. This matter arises from an incident on 28 February 2021 at Southend sea-front when PC Zhak Burrows (‘the officer’), a qualified dog handler with Essex Police attended with his Police dog Bella (‘PD Bella’) a reported assault between a male and a female.

1.1. The Appropriate Authority (‘AA’) alleges in their Regulation 30 Notice (filed pursuant to the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020) that the officer deliberately used unreasonable, unjustified and disproportionate force on and towards the male in retaliation for spitting at his police dog. In the alternative, it is contended that the officer’s use of force was unreasonable in all the circumstances.

1.2. The AA alleges that the conduct of the officer has breached the Standard of Professional Behaviour relating to the ‘Use of Force’, which, if proved, amounts to gross misconduct. The Panel notes from the filed Regulation 31 response that the officer has denied any breach of the Standard relating to the ‘Use of Force’.

1.3. The Panel wishes to record that Mr. Elliot Gold of Counsel appeared for the AA and Mr. Andrew McGee of Counsel appeared for the officer.

THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK
1.4. The Panel approached its fact-finding role in the following structured manner (as required by R (on the application of the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police) v Police Misconduct Tribunal [2020] EWHC 2032 (Admin):

To ascertain the facts (whether as admitted or found proven).
To ascertain whether the facts as determined by the Panel, constitute a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, as alleged;
and,
Whether the breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour amount to Misconduct or Gross Misconduct?
What Disciplinary Action (sanction) is appropriate?
1.5. In deciding matters of fact, the Panel is fully cognisant that the AA brings the case and the burden of proof of proving the allegations rests with the AA. The standard of proof in misconduct proceedings is the civil standard of the balance of probabilities; what is more likely than not. The seriousness of the allegation of misconduct and/or the seriousness of the consequences for the officer do not require a different standard of proof, merely appropriately careful consideration by the Panel before it is satisfied of the matter which has to be established.

1.6. The inherent probability or improbability of the conduct occurring is itself a matter to be taken into account when deciding whether, on the balance of probabilities, the conduct occurred. In making a decision whether the alleged conduct is proven or not, the persons conducting or chairing will need to exercise reasonable judgment and give appropriate careful consideration to the evidence (See Paragraphs 9.10/9.11. of the Home Office Guidance 2020).

THE FACTS AS ASCERTAINED BY THE PANEL
1.7. Live evidence was received from the following witnesses, PC L’wren BREMMER, PC Edward SMITH, Sergeant PRYKE and Mr Robert KNIGHT, Personnel Safety Trainer. The officer (PC BURROWS) also gave live evidence. The Panel also viewed the CCTV Council footage and the Body Worn Video (BWV) recordings from PC Bremmer and PC Smith.

ANALYSIS OF THE EVIDENCE AND FINDINGS IN RELATION TO THE ALLEGATIONS
1.8. In undertaking the fact-finding process, the Panel has approached it in the following stages:
(i) to ascertain the officer’s background and experience as a dog- handler.
(ii) to ascertain the state of the officer’s knowledge when he arrived at the Southend seafront on 28th February 2021.
(iii) to ascertain the state of affairs that led the officer to use force and the situation in the immediate aftermath.
(iv) to ascertain the nature of the discussion or debrief between the officers after the use of force.

1.9 Turning to each stage in turn:

The Officer’s background and experience as a dog-handler
1.10. The officer said he joined Essex Police on 19 January 2015. He always wanted to become a Police dog handler and was successful on his third attempt. On 31 December 2019 he joined the dog section within Division OPC-Boreham.

1.11. He explained that dog handlers do not choose their dogs but are paired by the trainer. PD Bella was assigned to the officer. She was a rescue dog and approximately 2 years old when she started training compared to the typically younger dogs of less than 12 months that are usually chosen for training. The officer said PD Bella was a homely dog and her dog instincts had to be drawn out from her. She was not inherently aggressive or cautious when not in her ‘In- drive’ mode for police work.

1.12. The officer underwent all the necessary and relevant training to become a dog handler and has since kept his training up to date. During training he taught PD Bella various commands which he explained.

1.13. The officer said PD Bella was exceptional at keeping fixated on the target. In his interview statement, he observed that PD Bella was ‘capable of massive injuries’ and was extremely ‘loud’ with one of the best ‘surveillance barks’ on the section. He also said that ‘it’s not taboo to have a training issue, ultimately you are working with a living animal and sometimes they don’t do what you expect them to do…’.

1.14. The officer explained what was meant by holding PD Bella ‘high’. He said the objective of doing so was to keep her away from the target. The officer would not deploy her from high. He said this action can sometimes lead to dogs going into ‘In-drive’ but did not appear to do so with PD Bella.

1.15. In approximately 11 months, he and PD Bella were involved in over 100 deployments involving over 90 arrests of which PD Bella’s skills and abilities led directly to 44 arrests through finding property or tracking subjects.

1.16. Prior to this incident, PD Bella had been involved in 5 bite reports with none leading to any formal proceedings. The officer said that in 2020 PD Bella bit a suspect who had freed himself from handcuffs and had attacked her. She had been deployed on an instructive bite. Her bite was serious and led to the man losing use of his hand. A subsequent IOPC investigation found the use of force justified.

1.17. The Panel has considered the evidence of the officer in relation to his background and experience as a dog handler and accepts his account.

The state of the officer’s knowledge when he arrived at the Southend sea-front on 28th February 2021?
1.18. The officer said he was at Southend Police Station when he became aware of talk on the radio of an unknown male and female assaulting each other at the sea front end of Southend High Street. He had recently returned from another incident with PD Bella involving a machete and was in his Inspector’s office talking to him when he saw what was unfolding on the Council’s CCTV camera link.

1.19. He said he could see a male and a female running on the stairs overlooking Southend sea-front and fighting each other which involved punching, scratching, gouging, slapping, pushing and kicking. He had not seen that level of violence used in a street fight ever in his career including on CCTV and felt it was truly shocking. He had not seen the two individuals on the CCTV prior to them fighting each other. He also thought that they must have been under the influence of some sort of intoxicating substance, likely to be hard drugs, due to the extreme strength both were displaying. In light of what he saw he informed the Inspector he would deploy with PD Bella.

1.20. He said the CCTV transmissions had lost track of the individuals around the Pier Hill area near the greenery. He anticipated as the two individuals had been fighting someone might get injured so he expected on arrival to put PD Bella on a tracking line to locate and find anyone injured.

1.21. The officer explained that the primary purpose in going to the sea front was to support the local police units. He knew the local Inspector and Sergeant and thought the local police units would appreciate his support with PD Bella. He knew that the local police team was inexperienced, with several probationers on duty who often required guidance and assistance.

1.22. On arrival at the Pier Hill area and recalling that the CCTV had lost track of the individuals around the greenery, he placed PD Bella on a tracking harness and a long line and moved into the greenery area but was made aware by other units that the fighting had now moved to the beach. He heard the commotion coming from the beach area and made his way there. He did not see any of the local police officers and considered if he was the first to arrive he would deploy PD Bella to ‘watch’ which is the command to ‘bark’ at the suspect and maintain surveillance. However, as he arrived at the beach area it became clear to him that a local police team of four officers were also approaching. He made a decision to stand back and allow the local police team to take control of the situation while remaining close enough to see and hear what was going on.

1.23. The Panel has reviewed the evidence and finds on the balance of probabilities the facts proven as stated by the officer. In reaching its conclusions, the Panel is aware that he was challenged in cross-examination about the level of violence he observed on the CCTV and his assessment that it was truly shocking and the worst that he had seen in a street fight. The Panel finds that his assessment was based on his honestly held but clearly subjective operational experience which will vary from officer to officer. Having observed the CCTV footage, the Panel finds there was a violent altercation that occurred between the male and female which could very well have led to serious harm. The Panel further finds that based on what he had seen and heard on the CCTV and radio transmissions, the officer made the correct operational decision to deploy with PD Bella to assist the local police teams.

The state of affairs that led the officer to use force and the situation in the immediate aftermath
1.24. On arrival at the beach front the officer stayed back with PD Bella who was placed on surveillance barking while the local police teams comprising four officers took responsibility for the male and the female. The Panel have viewed the CCTV and the BWV which showed the male and female being separated. The female was moved away from the beach by two of the officers. The male was left sitting on the sand with PC Bremmer to his left and PC Smith to his right and the officer and PD Bella looking on from a distance. The male was handcuffed in the rear stack position. The male was arrested by PC Bremmer.

1.25. PC Smith said in his written statement ‘The male was moved into a position where he was sitting up with his legs out straight and his hands behind his back due to being handcuffed. I was restraining the male from behind using the handcuffs and knew that the male needed searching. PC Burrows joined us on the beach with his police dog Bella and was situated about 1.5 metres from myself and PC Bremmer. PD Bella was barking continuously. I asked PC Bremmer to take control of the male while I gave him a section 32 search. I got up to put some gloves on to do this as PC Bremmer had taken control’. PC Smith in his live evidence said that the male ‘was not particularly resisting when applying the handcuffs’. The Panel accepts the account provided by PC Smith.

1.26. The officer said when he saw the female being taken away by the two officers this made him think that she was compliant and was no longer a risk while the fact that the male was not being removed made him think that he was not compliant. The officer said as he approached, he could see PC Bremmer bending down behind the male’s back apparently looking for and fiddling with his hands and he assumed handcuffs. The officer realised that the handcuffs might not have been applied properly due to inexperience.

1.27. The officer said PC Smith was putting on some gloves which he assumed was intended to conduct a search as the officer had formed the view that the male could have a weapon having heard over the radio transmissions that a rock had been picked up. The officer thought that PC Smith had not realised the potential for the male to make a move and did not seem to be concentrating on the situation. The Panel has viewed the CCTV. At 18:52:42, it showed PC Bremmer and the male facing each other with the male’s hand behind him and PC Smith starting to unroll some gloves.

1.28. The officer observed that the male appeared to be agitated. He had flared nostrils and his eyes were wide. He appeared to be a person under intoxication by drugs or alcohol based on his physical appearance and the strength and behaviour the officer had seen on the CCTV footage. The Panel is aware that the non-verbal communication observed by the officer was not captured on the CCTV and the BWV and that the officer’s own BWV was not activated. The Panel finds there is no supporting evidence of the officer’s description of the male’s face. However, the Panel finds that the officer should not be disadvantaged by the absence of CCTV and accepts on the balance of probabilities the officer’s account of the facial appearance of the male as there is no reasonable basis to disbelieve his account.

1.29. The officer said from his observation of the male’s non-verbal communication that he was squirming and appeared to be moving his hands, rolling his shoulders forward and gently twisting his body as if he was trying to slip out of the handcuffs. In the circumstances the officer formed a view that PCs’ Bremmer and Smith were vulnerable to attack by the male, especially PC Bremmer because she was leaning over the officer. The officer feared that if the male had sprung-up he would have head-butted PC Bremmer.

1.30. He said at all times he was holding PD Bella very tightly and close to him in an approved manner. PD Bella was barking. He said at this stage the male commenced the first ‘engager’ signalling an escalation by shouting towards PD Bella ‘Shut the (swear words removed)’. This was done in a belligerent and vicious manner.

1.31 The officer said the male then signalled a second ‘engager’ by spitting towards him and PD Bella but missing them both. He said if he had not been concerned, he would have left the scene as it would have been oppressive to remain, but it was his perception of risk that kept him and PD Bella as a deterrent at the scene. He told the male several times not to spit at his dog.

1.32. From the CCTV the Panel have been able to see that PD Bella pulled the officer forward one step although they still remained at a little distance away from the male’s feet. From the BWV recording the male is seen to be calm after he has been handcuffed. PC Bremmer then asked the male for his name and he replied ‘Norman’. PC Smith then asked PC Bremmer to hold the male while he conducted a search. At this point the male shouted in the direction of the officer and PD Bella ‘Shut the (swear words removed)’ and the officer responded with ‘Oi enough’. PC Bremmer then told the male to calm down followed by the officer telling the male in quick succession on at least three times ‘Do not spit at my dog’.

1.33. The written statement of PC Smith at this time stated ‘The male’s attitude had previously become quite chilled out but he suddenly did get more aggressive. The male has then spat towards PC Burrows and PD Bella. I do not believe that this spit hit either of them. PC Burrows has shouted ‘Do not spit at my dog’ and let the dog get closer to the male but did not let the dog get to the male. Due to the male getting more aggressive myself and PC Bremmer pulled the male backwards to get him back down on the ground to restrain him in a stronger position. As we have done this, the male has kicked his legs out in front of him’. In his live evidence, PC Smith was asked about the reference to the male ‘kicking out’ in his statement. He replied ‘on the day I thought it was a kick … but I can see it might be different looking at it now’. He added looking at the CCTV ‘it was also not my view’.

1.34. PC Bremmer in her written statement said ‘….the male then shouted ‘Shut the (swear word removed) up you (swear word removed) and then spat directly in front of the police dog who has then began to bark and snarl. As the male spat, PC Smith seemed to have pulled the male back and as he has done this the male lifted his leg in the direction of PD Bella’. In her live evidence, PC Bremmer said it was her belief that the male had ‘kicked out’. PC Bremmer was taken to the BWV entry at 05.42 when she told the male ‘And you then kicked out at us’. She confirmed that at the time the male had ‘kicked out’. She said the CCTV showed clearly that she had put her hand out over the male’s leg to stop him kicking his legs’.

1.35. In his interview statement of 06/08/21 (at page 187 of the case bundle), the officer was asked about the male’s legs. He said while viewing the CCTV ‘he doesn’t move his legs really at all – even through all that aggression, I’d say that in return, even though that aggression was that ‘shut up’ all this body movement, his legs don’t move at all, his legs don’t until later, It’s all in the upper body that you can’t see’. He further states ‘his legs never move, but also his legs aren’t flat out, they’re like this …… he’s on the heels’.

1.36. The Panel has considered the evidence and finds on the balance of probabilities that the male was initially calm but then shouted verbal abuse at PD Bella as opposed to the officer, as he had not said anything to the male at this stage. The male’s verbal abuse was followed by one spit by the male aimed in the direction of PD Bella and the officer which was followed by the officer responding by telling the male not to spit at this dog several times.

1.37. As to the alleged ‘kick out’ by the male, the Panel has carefully considered the conflicting evidence and has viewed the CCTV. The Panel accepts the evidence of the officer that the male did not move his legs really at all although his legs were not flat either. From the CCTV, his legs can be seen to be elevated and the hand of PC Bremmer over them. The Panel finds that there was no ‘kick out’ as confirmed by PC Smith’s live evidence but an elevated leg for a brief duration that was most likely caused as the male was pulled backwards by PC Smith as indicated by PC Bremmer. Accordingly, the Panel does not accept the evidence of PC Bremmer that the male ‘kicked out’. Further, the Panel does accept the evidence of the officer regarding the non-verbal actions of the male related to his upper body movements. Although there is no independent evidence supporting these observations, there is no reasonable basis for disbelieving the officer’s account of the non-verbal actions that he saw.

1.38. The officer said he next saw the male pivot backwards and he felt at that point that male could have slipped the handcuffs and was about to strike, so he leant down and picked up PD Bella high. He decided to place the sole of his right boot on the upper side of the male’s chest/ or on his shoulder area to push him backwards. He was not intending to kick the male. His intention was to kick through the male’s shoulder area in order to push him backwards and to step over him and stand to the rear allowing him to be properly detained on the ground and allow him time to communicate to and instruct the other officers with the threat from the male reduced.

1.39. The officer said he moved forward with PD Bella pulling her up towards him holding her in his left hand so she was away from the male on the other side of him and also pulling her head away from the male. This action was because PD Bella formed no part of the strategy for dealing with the male and the threat he posed to the other officers. He said as he approached the male PC Bremmer pulled him slightly backwards and his feet came up and connected with his legs. He lost his footing and fell to the ground. He said his footing had been good on the sand which was firm. Although there was a risk of falling it was low. He considered his left leg against PD Bella to be his posting leg and not his right leg as suggested by Sergeant Pryke in his expert evidence.

1.40. The officer said he gave no command to bite and did everything he could to stop the male from being bitten. He said the male shouted out several times that PD Bella was biting him even though it can be seen from the CCTV and Body Worn Video that he and PD Bella were not physically close to the male on these occasions.

1.41. The officer said he did not move forward because he had lost his temper with the male. He said he could mention many examples of when he stayed calm under pressure. Once he had stumbled, he quickly released his hold on PD Bella’s lead to avoid landing on and injuring her. He also immediately changed his grip to pull her away but in so doing she came too close to the male making contact with his rear left shoulder, ripping his top resulting in her ‘snapping’ rather than biting. This led to a minor scratch with one tooth. It was purely accidental and unintentional. The officer also mentioned that PD Bella also engaged with him, She ripped his trouser leg pocket trying to access her ‘ragga’ toy which was in his pocket as he put himself between the male and her to avoid injury.

1.42. In PC Smith’s written statement, he stated ‘Due to the male getting more aggressive myself and PC Bremmer pulled the male backwards to get him down onto the ground to restrain him in a stranger position. As we have done this. The male has kicked his legs out in front of him. PD Bella was situated in this area. PC Burrows has jumped in to assist myself and PC Bremmer as the male was struggling. Due to him having hold of the dog, the dog was close to all of us involved. During the struggle the male on the ground was shouting that the dog had bitten him, I did not actually see this happen due to the darkness and the struggle. The male was repeatedly shouting towards the dog, which in my opinion was exacerbating the situation so I pushed the male’s head back down towards the sand to gain control of him and asked him to shut up’. On PCs’ Smith and Bremmer’s BWV, the male can be heard saying ‘You’re stepping on me officer, he’s biting me, he’s (swear word removed) biting me man’. PC Burrows can be heard saying twice ‘Do not spit at my dog’. In his live evidence, PC Smith repeated that he pushed the male’s head back down towards the sand as he felt his shouting was exacerbating the situation.

1.43. In PC Bremmer’s written statement she said ‘PC Burrows has gone towards the male with PD Bella and has then pushed the male to the ground with his foot and I believe this is when PD Bella engaged with the male. I was telling the male to stay still so that PC Burrows could release PD Bella from him’.

1.44. In his interview statement the officer stated (at page 136 of the case bundle) ‘I’ve stepped forward. I’ve put myself in the risk position so if Bella gets aggressive enough and wants to bite I‘ve enough strength to pull her back and she can just go for me. She bites my chest, you know, my equipment. That’s not going to hurt me. My intention isn’t to hurt him, it’s a threat forward’.

1.45. The officer further stated ‘so I’ve stepped forward and I’ve done this before with Bella with success, and oddly enough at that point I’ve got a decision to make. Either back off or I engage and do something, and spinning around the NDM the decision is based on the information in front of me. I’m acutely aware of the risk of handcuffs having had a loose handcuff go through my top lip and smash my front teeth out. Erm and that was at a previous incident with Bella, where Bella was also seriously assaulted. So, I know the risk.

The way his shoulders is coming forward feels to me like he is trying to pull out of those cuffs. I don’t know if they’re on properly. L’wren is still messing around his back trying to calm him down, so I don’t believe they’re on properly. So the male PC again to me seems unaware of the risk, and that’s just my opinion, no disrespect to him, and he isn’t seeing what I am seeing from my angle. So as I have stepped forward I’m in that position of now I either disengage or engage. I can’t baton the male and I wouldn’t baton the male at that point but that’s not a use of force that would be acceptable. I’ve got CS at that point not parva. CS will erm really badly affect me, let alone probably the other officers and then I won’t be able to control Bella so that is not an option. He’s already potentially in handcuffs but I don’t think they are on properly, from where I am, so and I can’t get to him with handcuffs anyway, so I don’t want to bite him because if I did I would have just released Bella’s lead forward and given her the instruction of ‘Stop him’ which is her bite command.

But I also want to contain the threat so I choose to make a step forward and put my foot towards his chest to kick him down so there pressure back on his cuffs. He’s down on the ground then I can get control of him and the intention was …..kick, step over, and I’ll hold Bella up and then I’m over him should he decide to get up and manage to loosen the cuffs and let the other officers detain. That’s the intention of step forward and kick. Obviously, there is an element of risk to that. I’m on the sand, its not the best footing, he is on the floor, can kick up, if the cuffs loose, we end up in a bit of a roll around, but to me the risk is quite low…….’

1.46. The officer further stated (at pages 138 of the case bundle) ‘…so I have stepped forward, kicked him and I think it’s the top right part of his chest …….it did hit his shoulder, as I have done so, he’s kicked out, I have put my foot down with that kick to my leg, I’ve basically rolled forward and I’ve lost my footing, so I am going down. At this point there very limited I can do, I’ve got hold of PD Bella, I am falling on top of her, she’s going to be going forward and also as I am falling forward …. It quite difficult to hold that strength to hold her back so she’s lunged forward and I’ve released her collar, something like turning a disadvantage to an advantage. There’s limited I can do at that point. I never gave her the instruction of stopping. I don’t intend for her to bite him but she is an experienced dog and the last time she was in that situation where somebody shouted at her, showed aggression towards her, she was beaten quite badly by the suspect, so she would have taken her own decision that I need to bite this man’.

‘I managed to hold her back with enough strength even though I am falling, she just grabs clothing and I think with pinch, that’s where the pinch marks on his arm comes from which are the fang marks. …….I managed to pull her back and I pull her back off of him an then he spends a long period of time screaming, you can see from the shadow on the body worn that she not biting him at this point. That’s a normal reaction from a suspect even pinch marks on the arm and back will hurt … they’re minor injuries but I appreciate a tooth to skin does hurt.

I get her away, I position myself between him and the dog, she’s trying to get to him and then I make an error, I hold up my hands at that point and say I make an error. As I tried to get up, she lunges forward again and I pull her back. The lunge forward shouldn’t have happened……she’s grabbed his top …that’s not an intentional action, that’s poor handling from me, ….. I should have just shuffled away first before standing up, but I wanted to stand up to get her away was the intention’.

1.47. Following the use of force, the officer said he and PD Bella moved back to give room for her to surveillance bark at the male. He said the ‘use of force bite had the desired effect and allowed the unit to get sufficient control of the male to ensure the minimalisation of risk of injury to others, prevent further spitting and appeared to shock and calm the male, as he began to listen to the females’ instructions following it’.

1.48. PC Smith’s evidence confirmed that after the use of force had concluded he conducted a search of the male. The BWV recorded that PC Burrows stated to the male ‘You throw yourself at these officers, if you try and hurt these officers mate the dog will try and hurt you, do you understand? The male is then heard crying out. PC Burrows is then heard repeating again ‘You don’t spit at me’. The male replied ‘I didn’t spit on the dog’ and later ‘I spat on the floor’. He is then arrested by PC Burrows for assaulting a police officer. The officer is also heard on the BWV recording stating that if the male ‘kicked out or hurt the officers then the dog would bite him’ and if he used violence against the officer, he would use violence against the male. In cross-examination, the officer said these statements were said as ‘threat deterrents. The Panel has considered the officer’s statements and finds on the balance of probabilities that issuing a threat deterrent was appropriate, but the content of the threats issued by the officer was inappropriate given the male’s circumstances following the use of force. The evidence shows at this time the male was cowering, shouting and fearful and the content of the threats issued were inappropriate and lacking in respect. It would have been better for the officer to have displayed some empathy, aftercare and reassurance to the male by saying something like ‘Calm down, listen to the officers, if you try and struggle I may need to use force again’.

1.49. The Panel has carefully considered the evidence regarding the use of force and has assessed whether the officer’s actions were necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all the circumstances. In considering the actions taken by the officer, the Panel recognises the use of force was of short duration during a period while the officer had to conduct a dynamic risk assessment in accordance with the national decision model (NDM) and make split-second judgments. The Panel has also sought to give due weight to the evidence the officer has provided relating to the male’s non-verbal communications that were not captured on the CCTV or BWV.

1.50. The Panel accepts the officer’s evidence regarding his account of the facial expression of the male and his upper body movements which were not captured on the CCTV. The Panel has viewed the CCTV and finds that the male had not ‘kicked out’ and had previously been compliant when handcuffed. The Panel accepts that the officer did not see the male being handcuffed but using his experience was aware of the dangers of suspects slipping out from their handcuffs. The Panel also accepts that the male had gone from a prior calm phase into a more agitated phase demonstrated by his two ‘engagers’ of verbal abuse and spit at PD Bella.

1.51. The officer said he thought about his options and ruled out baton use and CS spray. This was a proper decision but in the view of the Panel too limited in scope and consideration of options. He should also have considered the following options: (i) doing nothing as the spit had not reached him; (ii) retreating and de-escalating as PD Bella was agitating the male; (iii) tactical communications; (iv) deployment of a spit-hood.

1.52. Linked to these options, the Panel finds that the officer did not fully consider all the possible reasons for why the male was becoming agitated as demonstrated by the two engagers. In the Panel’s view, based on the BWV’s recording it is more likely than not that the agitation shown by the male was due to the presence of PD Bella surveillance barking at him and not because he was seeking to free himself from the handcuffs.

1.53. The BWV’s show that at 03.08, PD Bella started barking and at 03.40 the male commenced shouting verbal abuse at PD Bella followed by spitting. At this point, it is clear from the CCTV that the male is agitated but he is not struggling and the officer should have considered de-escalation by moving further back from the male. The officer assumed that the male was about to slip his handcuffs based on his prior experience. This was an assumption that led him into error. Had the officer undertaken a more thorough risk-based assessment based on what was actually happening in front of him rather than making assumptions about the handcuffs he would have been able to take into account the presence and impact of PD Bella on the agitated male. A de-escalation step should have been considered to reduce the male’s agitation.

1.54. Furthermore, to have guarded against making assumptions, the officer should have conducted tactical communications with his colleagues to clarify the position of the handcuffs. In his written statement, when explaining why he had deployed force the officer stated ‘At this stage tactical communication had failed and in my opinion the LPT officer did not have full control of the male’. The Panel finds the officer’s statement to be wholly mistaken. The more accurate position by the time he had completed the deployment of force was that there had been no tactical communication at all with his colleagues. It was a failure on his part not to have used tactical communications to properly clarify the situation before deciding to deploy force which should only have been used as a last resort.

1.55. Finally, given the level of concern shown by the officer about the male’s spitting, he should have considered requesting a spit-hood for the male.

1.56. Finally, the AA alleges that the officer ‘lost his temper;’ which led to his use of force. The Panel has carefully considered his evidence on this matter and finds that there was no loss of temper demonstrated in his actions or on the CCTV and BWV recordings. That being said, while the Panel accepts that the officer did not lose his temper, the Panel finds on the balance of probabilities that he was ‘riled’ by the male’s verbal abuse and physical behaviour of spitting towards PD Bella.

1.57. The Panel reaches this view for the following reasons. The officer knew that the male’s verbal abuse and spit was not against him that is why he repeatedly told the male ‘Do not spit at my dog’. It is clear that the officer was ‘riled’ as demonstrated by his repeated instruction to the male even though the male had in fact only spat once at PD Bella. Even after the deployment of the use of force the officer continued to tell the male not to spit which showed his level of annoyance and irritation at the male. In his interview statement, the officer described the male’s behaviour as ‘disgusting and ‘vile’ although he denied it made him angry. However, despite it’s finding of the officer being ‘riled’, the Panel wishes to stress that there is no evidence that the officer acted impulsively or at all on this annoyance or irritation when he decided to use force.

1.58. In describing the officer as ‘riled’ the Panel has been careful not to suggest that the officer had lost his temper and that is why he used force. The Panel does not find the officer lost his temper but rather that he was ‘annoyed or irritated’ by the male’s behaviour while at the same time having concerns about the behaviour of the male. His irritation continued after the use of force as he was still telling the male not to spit at his dog and this irritation may well have led to a further failure on his part, namely, to ask his colleagues if the handcuffs were secured or to check this himself which was the very threat in respect of why he had used force in the first place.

1.59. Having completed the use of force, the Panel is aware that the officer and PD Bella moved a little distance back from the male but PD Bella continued a surveillance bark. The evidence of PC Smith was that the male continued to shout at PD Bella which exacerbated the situation such that he pushed the male’s head back down the sand to gain control of him and to get him to shut up. The officer said in his interview statement ‘Once its all finished, but at that point he’s still potentially a threat. Don’t get me wrong his body language has changed, he is, he’s like cowering’. The Panel has considered this evidence and finds that despite it being the correct decision for the officer to remain with PD Bella as the body search was still to be undertaken, given the apparent fear and distress caused to the male by PD Bella’s continuing surveillance bark, the officer should have considered retreating further back to try and de-escalate the male’s growing agitation.

1.60. The Panel has also considered the expert evidence of Sergeant Pryke. He observed that in the officer’s Bite Report and statement he stated ‘In response to this violence used back at me, I released PD Bella’s collar and she has bitten into the subject’s right arm. I did this in an effort to detain the male and prevent injury to myself and others’. However, in his later interview statement (extracts at paragraphs 145/146 above) Sergeant Pryke rightly identified that the officer stated that the bite was not intentional and was unjustified.

1.60(i). In light of these two opposing positions, Sergeant Pryke gave his expert view from two standpoints, firstly based on whether he felt that PC Burrows actions were justified and proportionate if the action of PD Bella biting was intentional, and secondly, whether he felt that PC Burrows actions were justified and proportionate if the action of PD Bella biting was unintentional as per his interview account. In reaching his expert view, Sergeant Pryke noted that the officer had said that PD Bella was capable of ‘really serious injury’ and can cause ‘GBH injuries’ and ‘massive injuries’ and she was ‘super aggressive’.

1.60 (ii). Sergeant Pryke said that in his opinion the manoeuvre undertaken by the officer when handling a dog like PD Bella was ‘high risk’. He said in cross examination that one of the many factors of it being high risk was the surface being sand, which was not particularly stable leading to the risk of falling being high. In this context, the Panel recalls the Bite Report and statement of the officer which stated ‘We were positioned on wet sand, so grip would have been extremely low and slippery, making detaining him difficult’.

1.61. Sergeant Pryke stated in terms of whether the actions of the officer as he described them in his Bite report and statement and later interview (being intentional or unintentional) were justified and proportionate, he concluded that wherever the officer’s account, neither were in his view justified nor proportionate. This was because the male was sat on the floor with his legs out in front of him and his hands behind his back in a significant position of disadvantage. He was offering no actual violence other than verbal aggression that escalated upon PC Burrows arrival. There was no communication between PC Burrows and the other officers, and post-bite the male was in exactly the same position as pre-bite with no evidence that PC Burrows had checked the handcuffs. He concluded that he did not see how the threat level had changed from pre-bite to post-bite. He said the bite was entirely preventable by PC Burrows not putting himself in a situation when the risks of something happening were high.

1.62. The Panel has considered the evidence of Sergeant Pryke and fully accepts his expert opinion. However, the Panel wishes to address the inconsistent position between the officer’s Bite report and statement dated 28/02/21 on the one hand and the officer’s interview statement dated 06/08/21 on the other. As highlighted by Sergeant Pryke, the Bite report and statement suggested that the officer had intentionally released PD Bella by stating ‘I released PD Bella’s collar and she has bitten into the subject’s right arm. I did this in an effort to detain the male and prevent injury to myself and others’. However, in his later interview he said that the release of PD Bella was unintentional.

1.63. The AA has suggested that the inconsistencies between the two accounts go directly to the credibility of the officer. The officer has stated that when he completed the Bite report and statement it was at the end of his shift and he also had other pressing reports to complete. He was under great pressure at work to finish the reports before the end of his shift and also from home as his daughter was ill and he wanted to get home. He accepted that the Bite report and statement were poorly worded. However, he corrected the position in his Interview statement and did not mislead.

1.64. The Panel has considered the matter and notes that the AA are not suggesting that the officer has been dishonest in his accounts. In any event, the Panel finds that the CCTV and BWV footage it has viewed are more consistent with his interview statement as reflected in his Regulation 31 response. The Panel finds on the balance of probabilities that his explanation for the inconsistencies is plausible and that the release of PD Bella was unintentional and accidental.

1.65. The Panel is also aware of further inconsistencies raised by the AA regarding the officer’s various written accounts which it alleges go directly to his credibility. The Panel has considered the inconsistencies and finds they are not material, and that some allowance for variations must be made in circumstances where an officer is expected to provide several accounts over a period of time.

1.66. In summary, the Panel finds that for the reasons already indicated the officer’s risk assessment was flawed, based on assumptions rather than properly assessing the situation in front of him. He should have considered more fully the reasons why the male was becoming agitated having earlier been compliant and he should have deployed tactical communications to clarify the position regarding the handcuffs before deploying force, He should also have considered possible de-escalation. The officer was also irritated by the male’s treatment towards PD Bella although there is no causal connection to the officer’s subsequent use of force. He did not fully take into account the risks posed by PD Bella given her traits in deciding to use force. The Panel finds the use of force deployed by the officer was unnecessary and disproportionate given the other options available and unreasonable in all the circumstances, especially given the high-risks involved in deploying force while holding PD Bella.

The discussion between the officers after the use of force
1.67. The Panel are aware from the BWV that after the incident concluded with the male being taken away all three officers (PCs’ Bremmer and Smith and the officer) had a discussion or debrief for a few minutes which involved the officer’s use of force and other aspects of what had happened that evening. The AA alleges that the officer used the opportunity to obtain favourable evidence from PC Bremmer in particular regarding the possibility of the handcuff not having been applied properly to the male.

1.68. The officer accepted in evidence that he had a debrief with the other officers. He said it was not an attempt to collude in their evidence or to obtain information to fabricate his report. This was all done with the BWV recording the debrief so everything was done openly and in a transparent manner.

1.69. The Panel has carefully considered the matter and finds that it is not uncommon for officers following the conclusion of an operation, especially a use of force deployment to quickly review what had happened bearing in mind the need to write up their statements quickly afterwards. The Panel has reviewed what was discussed and viewed the BWV and finds the debrief was spontaneous and fluid in nature with no collusion or any inappropriate or unprofessional behaviour demonstrated by any of the participating officers.

1.70. Turning to the specific allegations in the Regulation 30 Notice in light of the Panel’s factual findings:

1.71. In relation to paragraph 11(1) sub-paragraph (i)-(v) the Panel finds the allegations proven on the balance of probabilities;

1.72. In relation to paragraph 11(ii) the Panel finds the allegation proven on the balance of probabilities;

1.73. In relation to paragraph 11 (iii) the Panel finds the allegations not proven. While the Panel has been critical of the content of the threat deterrents issued by the officer, the AA’s allegation is that the officer made threats to use unlawful force against the male. The Panel finds the threat deterrents made by the officer were all conditional on violence being used first by the male and the officer responding in particular way. In the circumstances, it is premature to say that any response by the officer to the male ‘kicking out’ or ‘using violence’ against him or the other officers would be unlawful per se. The allegations therefore as specifically drafted are not proven.

1.74. In relation to paragraph 11(iv) the Panel does not find either sub-paragraph (i) or (ii) proven. The officer did not act intentionally to release PD Bella to bite the male and did everything he could to avoid PD Bella getting close to the male after he stumbled. This is evident from the CCTV footage. The bite to the male was accidental. Further. the officer did not act impulsively.

TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER THE FACTS AS DETERMINED BY THE PANEL CONSTITUTE A BREACH OF THE STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOUR
1.75. The Panel has considered the facts and is mindful that, in considering this question, it will need to exercise reasonable judgement and give appropriate and careful consideration to the evidence.

1.76. The Panel is also aware that when applying the Standards of Professional Behaviour in any decision or misconduct hearing they shall be applied in a reasonable, transparent, objective, proportionate and fair manner and that the procedures are intended to encourage a culture of learning and development for individuals and the organisation. Disciplinary action has a part, when circumstances require this, but all outcomes should include learning opportunities [see 2020 Home Office Guidance, para 2.9]. The Panel also notes that the nature of the Office of Constable means that all police officers are in a position of trust and authority in relation to members of the public.

1.77. Turning to the alleged breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour set out in the Regulation 30 notice, against the officer:

Use of Force
1.78. According to this Standard, Police an officer will only use force as part of their role and responsibilities and only to the extent that it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all the circumstances. The Standard provides that an officer must only use the minimum amount of force necessary to achieve the required result, and will have to account for any use of force, in other words justify it, based upon their honestly held belief at the time that they used the force.

1.79. The Panel is aware that the legal test relating to the standard of professional behaviour concerning the ‘Use of Force’ was recently clarified in R (W80) v IOPC and others [2020] EWCA Civ 1301. As the Court noted at paragraph 49 of the judgment ‘If the officer makes an honest mistake … the disciplinary panel must still determine whether the use of force, was in the words of the standard, “reasonable in all the circumstances”. In many cases, of course an honest mistake is also likely to be found reasonable in all the circumstances, but there will be some cases where it will not”.

1.80. The Panel is also aware of section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 which relates to assessing the reasonableness of the use of force. In particular, the Panel notes that in deciding this question it may take into account that a person acting for a legitimate purpose may not be able to weigh to a nicety the exact measure of any necessary action and, that evidence of a person’s having only done what the person honestly and instinctively thought was necessary for a legitimate purpose constitutes strong evidence that only reasonable action was taken for that purpose.

1.81. In light of the factual findings, the Panel finds that the officer acted for the best of intentions and honestly, but was mistaken in his dynamic risk assessment and deployed a use of force which was unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances.

WHETHER THE BREACH OF THE STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOUR AMOUNTS TO MISCONDUCT OR GROSS MISCONDUCT?
1.82. In light of the proven breach of the Standard of Professional Behaviour relating to the use of force, the Panel went on to consider the issue of seriousness of the proven conduct to determine whether the proven conduct amounts to ‘misconduct’ or ‘gross misconduct’. In undertaking this task, the Panel is mindful that ‘Misconduct’ is defined as ‘a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour’ that is so serious as to justify disciplinary action’ and ‘Gross Misconduct’ is defined as a ‘breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that is so serious to justify dismissal’.

1.83. In considering the issue of seriousness of the proven conduct, the Panel has assessed the officer’s culpability for the misconduct; the harm caused by his misconduct and has identified the existence of any aggravating and mitigating factors relevant to the conduct. In undertaking this task, the Panel is acutely aware that the conduct of the officer is to be judged according to the circumstances prevailing at the time it occurred and not now. It is a contemporaneous assessment.

1.84 In terms of culpability, the Panel finds that the officer is solely responsible for the decision to deploy force. There was no tactical communication with other colleagues. Although the decision to use force was flawed, it was based on his honestly held, albeit mistaken belief that the male was about to free himself from his handcuffs and injure his colleagues. His decision to use force was therefore made to protect his colleagues whom he felt were inexperienced and not aware of the risks that the male posed. In otherwards, the Panel finds that the officer acted for the right reasons but got it wrong.

1.85. The harm caused to the male was wholly accidental and the officer did everything he could to keep PD Bella away from biting the male. However, while the harm was unintentional, the risk of harm could have been foreseen as the officer knew he had a strong dog who could cause serious injury to the target if the tactic manoeuvre went wrong. Unfortunately, it did go wrong because the officer stumbled and the male suffered minor physical injury. Injury which was preventable had the officer not used a high-risk manoeuvre.

1.86. This incident involved a male member of the public who has been directly harmed by the unlawful use of force. In the circumstances, the Panel considers that harm has been caused to public confidence by reason of the officer’s conduct. Members of the public are entitled to expect that police officers will only use force as a last resort, and only when it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all the circumstances.

1.87. The Panel has also considered the presence of any aggravating factors relevant to the officer’s conduct and finds the abuse of trust and the impact on the victim to be of relevance.

1.88 Turning to the presence of mitigating factors relevant to the conduct of the officer, these are as follows: (i) the misconduct was of brief duration (ii) the officer was responding to an honestly held belief of an imminent threat to his colleagues from the male who may have concealed a weapon and who appeared to be wriggling out of his handcuffs; (iii) acting for a legitimate policing purpose and acting in good faith but getting it wrong; (iv) once the officer had stumbled he did everything he reasonably could to prevent PD Bella from biting the male and accepted that his handling of her was poor in some respects.

1.89. Having assessed the seriousness of the conduct of the officer, PC Burrows, the Panel finds that the proven allegations taken individually and/or collectively against him amounts to Misconduct.

Panel’s Findings on Outcome/Sanction
1.90. The Panel heard submissions from Counsel on behalf of the AA and the officer concerning the appropriate and proportionate outcome in light of the Panel’s earlier gross misconduct findings.

1.91. Before turning to set out the outcome for the officer, the Panel wishes to first explain its approach by identifying some overarching considerations it has borne in mind.

Overarching Considerations
1.92. In approaching its decision making regarding an appropriate and proportionate sanction for the officer the Panel has considered the submissions, together with the officer’s record of police service in accordance with Regulation 42 (14)(a) of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020. The Panel has also paid close attention to the general framework for assessing ‘Outcome’ set out in the College of Policing Guidance on Outcomes in Police Misconduct Proceedings (‘the guidance’). Of particular importance, are the following paragraphs in the guidance:

At para 1.2: the guidance sets out the purpose of the misconduct regime as follows:

“Police Officers exercise significant powers. The Misconduct regime is a key part of the accountability framework for the use of these powers. Outcomes should be sufficient to demonstrate the individual accountability for any abuse or misuse of police powers if public confidence in the police service is to be maintained. They must also be imposed fairly and proportionately.”

At para 2.3, the three-fold purpose is explained:

Maintaining public confidence in and the reputation of the police service
Upholding high standards in policing and deterring misconduct
Protecting the public
1.93. In the context of the purpose of professional disciplinary proceedings the Panel is aware this is drawn from established case-law:

In Bolton v Law Society [1994] 1 WLR 512 Sir Thomas Bingham MR (as he then was) stated “A profession’s most valuable asset is its collective reputation and the confidence which that inspires”

In R (Green) v Police Complaints Authority [2004] UKHL 6 Lord Carswell stated in relation to the police service:

“Public confidence in the police is a factor of great importance in the maintenance of law and order in the manner which we regard as appropriate in our polity. If citizens feel that improper behaviour on the part of officers is left unchecked and they are not held accountable for it in a suitable manner, that confidence will be eroded”.

1.94. At para 2.10 of the guidance, it is noted that misconduct proceedings are not designed to punish police officers. As stated by Lord Justice Laws in the decision of Rashid v GMC [2007] 1WLR 1460 “The Panel is centrally concerned with the reputation or standing of the profession rather than the punishment of the doctor”.

That said, at paragraph 2.11. the guidance acknowledges:

“The outcome imposed can have a punitive effect, however, and therefore should be no more than is necessary to satisfy the purpose of the proceedings. Consider less severe outcomes before more severe outcomes. Always choose the least severe outcome which deals adequately with the issues identified while protecting the public interest. If an outcome is necessary to satisfy the purpose of the proceedings, impose it even where this would lead to difficulties for the individual officer”.

At paras 4.5-4.6, the guidance advises that, when considering outcome, a Panel should:

“4.5……first assess the seriousness of the misconduct, taking account of any aggravating or mitigating factors and the officer’s record of service. The most important purpose of imposing disciplinary sanctions is to maintain public confidence in and the reputation of the policing profession as a whole. This dual objective must take precedence over the specific impact that the sanction has on the individual whose misconduct is being sanctioned.

4.6 Consider personal mitigation such as testimonials and references after assessing the seriousness of the conduct.”

At para 6.3 of the guidance regarding the scope of personal mitigation, it states:

“Consider any personal mitigation advanced by the officer when deciding on the appropriate outcome. Such mitigation may include whether the officer has shown remorse, acted out of character or made a significant contribution to the police service.

1.95. The Panel also wishes to recall paragraph 2.9 of the 2020 Home Office Guidance which states:

“Disciplinary action has a part, when circumstances require this, but all outcomes should include learning opportunities”.

1.96. In distilling these important principles to reach an appropriate and proportionate outcome for the officer, the Panel is aware of the importance of following the three stage structured approach explained by Mr Justice Popplewell in the decision of Fuglers LLP v SRA [2014] subsequently reaffirmed by the High Court in the decision of His Honour Judge Pelling QC in the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police v Police Misconduct Tribunal (Roscoe – Interested Party) [13 November 2018] and in R (on the application of Chief Constable West Midlands Police) and Panel Chair, Police Misconduct Panel and ‘Officer A’ [2020] EWHC 1400.

1.97. The three stages are to assess the seriousness of the misconduct; to keep in mind the purpose of imposing sanctions; and, to choose the sanction which most appropriately fulfils that purpose for the seriousness of the conduct in question.

1.98. In relation to the seriousness of the proven conduct, the Panel has already made its findings in relation to the officer above and adopts herein its earlier reasoning. However, it has augmented its reasoning in the context of determining outcome as considered appropriate.

1.99. Turning now to the outcome for the officer:

2.0. The Panel wishes to mention one further aggravating factor namely the officer’s inappropriate language towards the male after the use of force. In this regard, the Panel reiterates that the officer could have used language which showed more empathy towards the male who was clearly distressed, cowering and fearful. This does not change the severity assessment of misconduct but is part of the factual matrix of this incident.

2.1. Turning to the records of Police Service for the officer, the Panel notes that the officer is of good character. The records show that he joined Essex Police on 19 January 2015 and was in service for approximately 6 years when this incident occurred. His career progression has been impressive to date. In this context he received in May 2019 a Chief Constable’s Commendation and also received a judicial commendation. He has voluntarily trained as a Police Officer Tutor and mentors and coaches inexperienced colleagues to improve their learning and development.

2.2. The character evidence submitted on his behalf is overwhelmingly positive and shows him as a highly motivated, pro-active committed officer with a high work ethic. He is a highly regarded across all ranks.

2.3. In considering the appropriate weight to place on personal mitigation, the Panel has been guided by the decision of Holroyde J in the case of Williams v The Police Appeals Tribunal [2016] EWHC 2708. The judgment makes it clear that the weight to be attached to personal mitigation in any particular case is necessarily limited. Accordingly, the Panel has attached limited weight to the personal mitigation submitted by the officer.

2.4. Having considered the issue of seriousness, the Panel turned to consider the purpose of imposing sanctions. In this regard, the Panel is aware that the most important purpose of imposing disciplinary sanctions is to maintain public confidence in and the reputation of the policing profession as a whole. This dual objective must take precedence over the specific impact that the sanction has on the individual whose misconduct is being sanctioned.

2.5. In terms of maintaining public confidence in and the reputation of the police service the public would be rightly concerned that the officer has deployed unlawful force against a male who was sitting down with his hands handcuffed. The crux of the matter being that in a fast-moving environment he did not properly conduct a dynamic risk assessment. This led to a split-second decision to deploy unlawful force with his police dog which increased the overall risk of injury if something went wrong, given the known strength of PD Bella and her ‘super-aggressive’ disposition. It did go wrong and the male sustained a minor injury from the police dog.

2.6. In evidence, the officer has shown limited insights into his own failings in handling PD Bella. He has not shown any empathy towards the male and no contrition in respect of his conduct, and on the whole maintained that he did nothing wrong. The Panel finds that his attitude demonstrates a lack of understanding and insight which does him little credit.

2.7. However, given his obvious intelligence, high work ethic which has continued during these proceedings and demonstrated commitment to learning and development as shown by his Police Tutor’s role, the Panel is confident that these proceedings will serve as a salutary experience, such that the public can feel reassured that in the future there will be no reoccurrence of his behaviour and that he will adhere to the Standards of Professional Behaviour expected from him.

2.8. The Panel has carefully considered the facts and finds that only disciplinary action is appropriate in this case. In choosing the sanction which most appropriately fulfils the purpose for the seriousness of the conduct in question, the Panel has reviewed the range of available sanctions within Regulation 42(3)(a) of the 2020 Regulations.

2.9. These proceedings look forward and are designed to protect the public, deter future misconduct and maintain the reputation of the policing profession. The Panel has carefully taken into account all the relevant factors in the circumstances of the officer taking care to not ‘double count’. It has considered amongst other factors, the seriousness of the conduct, the harm to the male and the reputation of the policing service, any remorse and insights shown about his individual conduct, and the likelihood of any harm manifesting itself in the future.

2.10. Overall, the Panel finds that a final written warning is the only appropriate and proportionate outcome to reflect the serious circumstances of the officer’s misconduct and to maintain public confidence in and respect for the policing service.

Essex Police
  • Stats since 1st January 2022
  • 10 Misconduct Hearings
    80% held in public

Essex Police is a territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Essex in the east of England.


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