Essex Police officers to face gross misconduct hearing over lost fingertips
Five officers are due to face disciplinary proceedings after a man in police custody lost the tips of three fingers when they became trapped under a toilet seat.
An inspector, a temporary sergeant and three constables will face a gross misconduct hearing next week over their attempt to remove a detainee’s foot from a cell toilet.
The Essex Police officers are accused of gross misconduct after they used a number of techniques to remove the 33-year-old from the toilet at Colchester police station.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said as a result of the officers’ actions in the early hours of May 1, 2015, three of the fingertips on the man’s left hand were severed and he was taken to hospital.
Two independent investigations examined the decision making by officers when the man, who was a foreign national presenting mental health concerns, was booked in to custody and in relation to the techniques and force used to remove him from the toilet.
They also looked at the first aid offered to the man after he sustained his injuries and his continued detention after he returned from hospital.
Following an early IOPC informal recommendation, Essex Police has since replaced all toilets of this design in its custody suites.
The investigations were completed in April 2017 and deemed the inspector, three police constables and a temporary police sergeant, had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
Essex Police agreed with its conclusions and has scheduled hearings to begin May 7.
A police sergeant was also considered to have a case to answer for misconduct and received a written warning. Another officer received management action for misconduct.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided in August 2018 to take no further action over criminal matters.
IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: “This was an investigation that involved numerous officers and was expanded upon the receipt of the second referral six months after the initial incident.
“We made quick–time learning recommendations to Essex Police and the College of Policing to reduce the risk of detainees suffering serious injury, following which Essex Police has replaced toilets with the same design.
“We also concluded that five officers have a case to answer for gross misconduct and Essex agreed. It will now be for an independent panel to consider the evidence and make its judgment.”