West Mids Police duo cleared of assaulting prisoner

10 September 2019, 07:07

West Midlands Police car
West Midlands Police car. Picture: West Midlands Police

A retired custody sergeant and a police detention officer have been cleared of assaulting a verbally abusive prisoner after a judge rejected claims they had used disproportionate force.

Former West Midlands Police sergeant Howard Price, aged 52, and 50-year-old Steve Orton had both denied any wrongdoing in connection with injuries suffered by a detainee in a cell at the force's Oldbury custody unit.

Acquitting both men of assault by beating after a one-day trial at Birmingham Magistrates' Court, District Judge David Robinson said CCTV showed both officers had been in a situation where their health and welfare was at risk.

After hearing how a third custody officer had spent seven months off work after being injured while trying to restrain the detained man, the judge said: "I am satisfied that the complainant was actively resisting and was actively participating in the struggle as it began.

"It's perfectly clear that there was a struggle going on in which he was an active resister, even if he's not throwing blows as such."

The judge, who viewed CCTV of a number of "distraction strikes" being deployed as up to seven officers restrained the complainant, added none of their actions amounted to retaliation or a response to offensive comments.

"I am quite satisfied that the force used was to restrain and seek the compliance of the complainant," the judge said.

Price, aged 52, from Halesowen, told the court he had performed two leg sweeps after answering a panic alarm to attend the cell on November 11 last year.

Orton, aged 50, from Walsall, told the court he was left "quite sore" after aiming several "distraction strikes" at the prisoner, who was resisting and constantly saying he wanted to hurt himself.