Notts: Police officers disciplined over the treatment of a vulnerable woman in custody

Police
Police

Three Notts Police officers have appeared before a misconduct hearing over the treatment of a vulnerable woman while in police custody.

An inspector and a sergeant received final written warnings and another sergeant was given a written warning after a case of gross misconduct was proven, following a two day hearing.

It comes after a 43-year-old woman made a complaint about the way she was treated following her arrest on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and witness intimidation.

While in the force’s Bridewell suite in July 2011 the woman, who was seven and a half months pregnant at the time and who had been assessed as at risk of self harming, had her upper clothing removed and was left naked from the waist up for 13 minutes. She was also put in handcuffs for 11 hours.

She was later charged with offences but these were subsequently discontinued.

Notts Police referred her complaint to the IPCC in October 2011, who deemed an independent investigation was necessary.

In March 2013, the force received the IPCC’s report and its findings which upheld two out of five complaints that had been made; that the woman, inappropriate to her condition, was left in handcuffs for exceptional periods of time, and there was a failure to provide her with adequate information to enable her to provide officers with details to allow effective childcare, adding to her distress.

The IPCC also recommended a number of officers should face charges of gross misconduct and misconduct.

The three officers appearing at the misconduct hearing had supervisory roles at the time of the incident.

Detective superintendent Jackie Alexander, head of force professional standards directorate said: “We expect every person who is detained in Notts Police custody to receive high standards of care. We also expect officers and staff to act in accordance with their legal duties and our force policies and training.”

“The force deals with thousands of people in custody every year, many of whom are vulnerable, and we aim to ensure that on each and every occasion our professional standards are met. On this occasion, mistakes were made, the officers got it wrong and received formal discipline sanctions for their actions. We apologise to the complainant for this fact.”

“The force also acknowledges the challenging nature of the work of officers and staff responsible for custody, which often involves them having to make dynamic, fast time decisions relating to people’s welfare.”

“In November 2011 the force implemented a rigorous audit procedure into our custody suites and identified several of the organisational learning issues highlighted by the IPCC investigation, which it received in March this year. These have since been addressed.”

“We accept the IPCC’s findings and are acting robustly to rectify all issues, which have been highlighted, while ensuring that we regularly review and continually seek to improve the service we deliver.”

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