Notts Officer Cleared Of Using Excessive Force Against A Teenager

19 August 2015, 18:15

Nottinghamshire Police sign

A Nottinghamshire Police officer has been cleared of using unreasonable force on a young offender.

Stephen Chilton, of Nottinghamshire Police, used an unapproved neck restraint on the 17-year-old prisoner who was being held in the Bridewell custody suite on January 9 last year.

The misconduct panel hearing was the first to be held in public in Nottinghamshire.

The panel heard Sgt Chilton, a custody sergeant, held the youth around the neck for 56 seconds, and were shown CCTV of the officer punching him in the stomach.

The youth was deemed at risk of self-harm and footage was shown of him taking the mattress from the cell bed and putting it over his head and blocking the door.

Sgt Chilton then entered the cell and, following an alleged lunge from the prisoner, the two men began to tussle.

He was handcuffed as other officers came to help.

The allegation was the neck restraint was excessive in that it was used for too long.

Parvin Fernando, counsel for Nottinghamshire Police, said: "Sgt Chilton persisted for too long when it was obvious the handcuffs had been applied.

"There was an opportunity for that neck restraint to be loosened or removed.

"Sgt Chilton persisted with the neck restraint applied to (the prisoner) despite it being obvious that it was unsafe to do so in the circumstances.''

Matthew Butt, representing Sgt Chilton, denied the use of the neck restraint was "obviously excessive''.

He said: "If it really was obvious, you ought to want to ask the Professional Standards Department who had months to review the CCTV footage.

"It has never occurred to them the use of neck restraint was excessive.''

Judging the allegations of misconduct to be unproven, Assistant Chief Constable Simon Torr said: "We do not find the force used was disproportionate to the perceived threat.''

He added the sergeant would be given further training before being able to resume full duties.

Police Federation Criticise Case

Phill Matthews,Chairman, Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said: "Custody is a very fast paced and risky environment filled with violent and dangerous individuals with chaotic and risky lifestyles who don?t want to be there and often have multiple issues including drug and alcohol addictions, personality and psychiatric problems. Police Officers and staff who work in that environment do so to try and ensure that everyone is as safe as possible.

"The Sergeant is relieved that after 18 months the panel have today finally cleared him of  the final allegations he faced, having thrown out the other allegation yesterday as there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.

"He is glad that the public have been able to be sighted on the level of abuse, violence  and scrutiny that custody staff come under and hopes that the press will now better understand and appreciate the split second decisions that they have to take and justify.

"We do however have to question why it has taken 18 months to bring this action against him when the only evidence offered was a minutes worth of CCTV that was available at the time of the incident, and the forces own experts gave evidence that his actions were reasonable and justifiable.

"The personal cost  to him and his family having faced 18 months of stress and anxiety and the threat of losing his livelihood and reputation, simply for doing his job, has been immense.  Not to mention the large financial cost to the public at bringing such an expensive process that could have and should have been dealt with very differently."

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