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Metropolitan Police officers assaulted autistic boy


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#1 candles

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 11:49 AM

Metropolitan Police (Met) officers assaulted a 16-year-old boy with severe autism by forcing him into handcuffs and leg restraints during a school trip, the High Court has ruled.

Judges said the boy, who is now 19, and also suffers from epilepsy, had his human rights breached.

The boy, who also has epilepsy, was subjected to disability discrimination and false imprisonment, it was ruled.

He was awarded £28,250 in damages following the incident at a swimming pool in Acton, west London, in 2008.

'Refusing to apologise'


The force was refused permission to appeal, although counsel for the Met Commissioner said the application would be pursued directly with the Court of Appeal.

Outside court, the teenager's solicitor Tony Murphy said: "The commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, is still refusing to apologise and has instead sought permission to appeal this judgement.

"He has used public money to defend the indefensible."The boy, known only as ZH, was physically removed from the swimming pool and forcibly restrained after he jumped into the pool fully clothed.

The judge, Sir Robert Nelson, said although the officers attending the incident were acting as they genuinely thought best, their responses were "over-hasty and ill-informed".

Matters escalated to the point where a "wholly inappropriate" restraint of ZH, who cannot communicate by speech, took place.

By failing to consult his carers, the police failed to understand the potentially serious consequences of applying force and restraint to ZH, who was said to have suffered moderate post-traumatic stress disorder.

The judge said that ZH was at the pool for a familiarisation with four other pupils when he became fixated with the water and broke away from the group.

When the police arrived, they perceived it as a "life-and-death situation" as ZH, who could not swim but had no fear of the water nor indeed any knowledge of its danger, could have drowned.

When ZH moved closer to the pool, two officers took hold of his jacket as he began to gather momentum, but he was much too big and strong and ended up in the water, which was chest-deep.

Police van cage

ZH was moved to the shallow end and lifted out by lifeguards, with two police officers taking hold of his arms before handcuffs and leg restraints were applied.

Soaking wet, agitated and distressed, he was placed alone in a cage in the rear of a police van until calmed by carers and allowed to leave with them.

The judge said lawyers for ZH had established his claim for trespass to the person, assault and battery and false imprisonment under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Act,

He said: "The case highlights the need for there to be an awareness of the disability of autism within the public services.

"It is to be hoped that this sad case will help bring that about."

The court heard it was the first time police in London had been found to have subjected a member of the public to inhuman or degrading treatment, and to disability discrimination.

A spokesman for the Met said they were giving the findings of the hearing "full and careful consideration".

He added: "We will be seeking legal advice and take forward any learning as appropriate.

"We are making an application for leave to appeal today."



I am sure there has got to be more to this than reported here... Was this reported somewhere else before it went to court or before judgement was passed?

Source: BBC News

Edit: Updated the article content (14 March 2012 Last updated at 14:01)

Edited by candles, 14 March 2012 - 07:53 PM.


#2 Alex_101

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 11:54 AM

I'd like to hear the rest of the story....

A boy jumped into a pool fully clothed so he was cuffed and put in leg restraints?

What was he doing that lead to him being restrained?

#3 CmdKeen

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:14 PM

Resisting arrest presumably?

Autistic teenagers can be very strong, 16 year olds are perfectly capable of ending up in leg restraints. The France 6 nations game had the opening kick from an austic boy, much younger, who they did appear to have a little trouble removing from the pitch. Imagine that but 16, with police officers trying to tell you what to do, wanting to to something and basically throwing a tantrum.

I'm not saying that is what did happen but it is entirely possible. Police officers receive little or no training in autism or any other disabilities and yet are expected to deal with such circumstances. I'd still struggle to see how it would lead to degrading treatment or disability discrimination. Indeed its almost not-discriminatory being treated the same as anyone else who refuses to comply...

#4 Careless Whisperer

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:14 PM

If officers from the Met have actually been convicted in a court of assaulting the teenager, then the headline is correct.

However, I can't see anywhere that they have and it is very misleading. It is not a crime to breach the human rights of another per se, but sometimes the nature of act which breaches someone's human rights is by definition criminal according to domestic legislation.

#5 Giraffe

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:21 PM

Police officers receive little or no training in autism or any other disabilities and yet are expected to deal with such circumstances. I'd still struggle to see how it would lead to degrading treatment or disability discrimination. Indeed its almost not-discriminatory being treated the same as anyone else who refuses to comply...


Indeed. And whilst I'm sure it was an unpleasant experience for the boy involved, what has the world come to where we are dishing out £28k for something like this? It's another sign of how compensation culture has gotten totally out of hand. That amount of money equates to another PC off the streets for another year and it totally disproportionate.

Asides from that, what exactly were the officers suppose to do? I'm assuming that as he was on a school trip then the teachers and life guards present were also unable to deal with the situation - maybe we should sue them also?

Or maybe now the police should just refuse to deal with anything that doesn't fall into the remit of crime, and just leave everyone to resolve their own problems?

#6 Rocket

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:28 PM

A bit more info here from an article last year, it seems that the boy's father sued the Met;

Father sues police over 'assaulted' autistic boy

Seven police officers held down a severely autistic 16-year-boy before throwing him "soaking and sobbing" into the back of a police van after he jumped into a swimming pool in Acton, the High Court heard.

The boy's father is suing the Met after claiming officers piled on the teenager, who has the mental capacity of a five-year-old, before handcuffing him behind his back, putting him in leg restraints and abandoning him in a van cage.


The boy had been on a school trip to watch the swimmers in 2008, but ran to the pool's edge when it was time to leave. Efforts to coax him away failed and the police were called. The father claims officers falsely imprisoned and assaulted his son.

The police admit the boy, now 19, was imprisoned, but claim it was necessary and for his own safety.The hearing continues.

Link

#7 dredd1981

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:35 PM

A bit more info here from an article last year, it seems that the boy's father sued the Met;


Link


What were they supposed to do, leave a trail of candy from the pool to the bus?:new_no:

#8 Obain

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:41 PM

What were they supposed to do, leave a trail of candy from the pool to the bus?:new_no:


Thats what the guardianistas and seemingly 75% of the justice department want.

#9 Giraffe

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:53 PM

I've got a better idea. What we need is a crack team of high court judges who can be called on to attend these incidents as they happen (fully gowned up and in wigs of course). The officers can sit back and watch how these incidents should be dealt with by people who clearly know better than we do... :new_no:

#10 Jay P

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:57 PM

I suppose Taser was out of the question? :whistle:

In all seriousness though, what were the cops attending expecting to do? Could the kid swim?
Which was a greater risk, restraint or the possibility of him drowning.
Unfortunatly members of the public/parents cannot pick and choose which bits of the process can and cant be applied to each case.
Officers will deal with the situation based on procedure and prior experience.
An uncooperative male next to a swimming pool will be restrained everytime after communication clearly isnt working.
Handcuffs, leg restraints and the van will no doubt follow closely.

Edited by Jay P, 14 March 2012 - 01:01 PM.


#11 Rocket

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:01 PM

There were clearly many failings here from whoever was supposed to be looking after him. This is the trouble with calling the police to deal with incidents like this, the police are a last resort and are not social workers.

At the end of the day, all this young lad wanted was to have a swim. I really do think that this could have been dealt with in a controlled manner by letting him have a swim and without involving the police.

#12 BlockMan

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:22 PM

£28k? If my CNC app is rejected I might just become a trip and fall guy!

#13 MerseyLLB

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:32 PM

Excuse me for my ignorance as I cannot remember what condition the girl in question had however:

I was on patrol and was told by a MOP that there were 2 females fighting at the back of the station. I arrived and it turned out there was a 17 year old girl (with a mental health condition) and her carer. The girl was having what i can only describe as a tantrum. Her carer was struggling to keep hold of the girl. To cut a long story short at first i merely took hold of her arm to stop her pulling away. However in a relatively short space of time she headbutted her carer, punched her carer in the face several times, split her carers lip, punched me in the jaw (and it did hurt) and bit us both. I ended up deciding that I wasn't going to risk taking another punch/headbutt and ended up putting her in an entangled arm lock and the carer locked her other arm out so as to immobilise her. Her mother, who luckily worked locally, was called to come and help. For about ten minutes this girl continued to kick me and her carer in the shins, stamp on feet etc. She was incredibly strong. Yet we attracted quite a crowd of thick people passing out useful advice such as "Leave her alone you f***ing C***s" etc. When the mother eventually arrived, the girl changed demeanour immediately and started crying (leaving me feeling awkward) and she was put in the back of the mother's car.

Was it a breach of her human rights? Perhaps. Though maybe I should have just locked her up for assault x 2 and left it at that rather than trying to do the right thing. Or even better, have locked up the carer AND the kid for affray?

I am a strong advocate of legal professionals doing an observer shift with the police.

#14 bensonby

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:43 PM

Surely the people who were supposed to be caring for the boy failed in their duty of care and take a share in the blame. Too often are we called out to carers/social workers/teachers/NHS staff that can't/won't control, discipline or otherwise care for their wards.

Also, like I said in another thread, I'd like to see more positive suggestions from courts and others who are critical of police actions rather than just criticisms.

#15 Burnie

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:53 PM

Surely the people who were supposed to be caring for the boy failed in their duty of care and take a share in the blame. Too often are we called out to carers/social workers/teachers/NHS staff that can't/won't control, discipline or otherwise care for their wards.

Also, like I said in another thread, I'd like to see more positive suggestions from courts and others who are critical of police actions rather than just criticisms.


Though in 99% of cases its because the social workers/carers etc CANNOT use force wheras we can.

Its the same with care homes. They cant lock the front door as its a fire escape and they cant use force to stop the children in their care from walking out. This means we get called out to a misper...

#16 candles

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:08 PM

Though in 99% of cases its because the social workers/carers etc CANNOT use force wheras we can.

Its the same with care homes. They cant lock the front door as its a fire escape and they cant use force to stop the children in their care from walking out. This means we get called out to a misper...

Which leaves me perplexed... If a carer in charge of this childs welfare has seen fit to call the police as they cannot deal with the situation, and the only available course of action available to police but not the carer is force - then the carer, who I perceive to be someone in a professional capacity has assessed the situation and felt that force is to be used (if not, then the police should not have been called) - How has this outcome occured??

Personally, as a police officer, this is the kind of information (not on it's own though) I would be using to dynamically assess what course of action is suitable for the situation. I am seriously confused here...

#17 Burnie

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:19 PM

Which leaves me perplexed... If a carer in charge of this childs welfare has seen fit to call the police as they cannot deal with the situation, and the only available course of action available to police but not the carer is force - then the carer, who I perceive to be someone in a professional capacity has assessed the situation and felt that force is to be used (if not, then the police should not have been called) - How has this outcome ocurred?


The carers or the swimming pool staff may have called the police but it was the boys father who sued. I don't see anywhere in the articles where it even suggests the father was there at the time of the incident.

#18 bensonby

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:20 PM

Though in 99% of cases its because the social workers/carers etc CANNOT use force wheras we can.

Its the same with care homes. They cant lock the front door as its a fire escape and they cant use force to stop the children in their care from walking out. This means we get called out to a misper...


That isn't true though, is it?

The only extra legal authority we, as police officers, have to use force is s.117 PACE. Every other power is available to everyone. Therefore the only circumstances where we can use force are when we are exercising a PACE power (i.e. search, seizure and arrest).

If a crime is being committed and someone needs arresting then fine. That is our job. If its a discipline issue or whatever then we have no extra powers and it's not our job anyway.

#19 candles

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:22 PM

The carers or the swimming pool staff may have called the police but it was the boys father who sued. I don't see anywhere in the articles where it even suggests the father was there at the time of the incident.

No but an appropriate adult must've been present??

#20 Burnie

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:24 PM

Bensonby - It is. I should have made it clear that its not a legal thing.

Its actually company policy issues where they are instructed that they cannot use force. Thus if they do the company wont back them in any complaints and will (in most cases) actually pursue discipline action against them. It's annoying given how it restricts them so much and how common it is (certainly round here anyway)

Candles - the school/carers would have been the appropriate adults in the fathers absence

Edited by Burnie, 14 March 2012 - 02:30 PM.


#21 candles

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:29 PM

That isn't true though, is it?

The only extra legal authority we, as police officers, have to use force is s.117 PACE. Every other power is available to everyone. Therefore the only circumstances where we can use force are when we are exercising a PACE power (i.e. search, seizure and arrest).

If a crime is being committed and someone needs arresting then fine. That is our job. If its a discipline issue or whatever then we have no extra powers and it's not our job anyway.

I assume you are referring to preventing someone from causing harm to themselves, PACE s.24 - which s.24a does allow for other persons... Seems potentially the most likely to be applied in this circumstance?

Candles - the school/carers would have been the appropriate adults in the fathers absence

Yep, that is what I was thinking...

#22 bensonby

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:30 PM

I don't give two hoots about company policies to be frank. If
Someone calls us wasting our time then they are wasting our time. Despite whatever "policy" they are following.

When will we, the police, learn to say "no"? It infuriates me: we struggle to do our core function, let alone doing other organisations' jobs for them.

#23 museman

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:37 PM

Hear hear!

#24 candles

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:38 PM

I don't give two hoots about company policies to be frank. If
Someone calls us wasting our time then they are wasting our time. Despite whatever "policy" they are following.

When will we, the police, learn to say "no"? It infuriates me: we struggle to do our core function, let alone doing other organisations' jobs for them.

That is certainly a good point - In fact, if this circumstance was one that the police should say "no", but genuinely wanted to help out, then it is, sadly, a good example of why police should have said "no". Sad times, if everyone has the potential to be sued for helping out, then I do not look forward to the future...

However, I would like to think that any police officer present at this situation wouldn't be detaining this individual without the best of intentions and for the right reasons. But there is no information on this specific situation in which to judge.

#25 Milankovitch

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:44 PM

Surely the people who were supposed to be caring for the boy failed in their duty of care and take a share in the blame. Too often are we called out to carers/social workers/teachers/NHS staff that can't/won't control, discipline or otherwise care for their wards.

Also, like I said in another thread, I'd like to see more positive suggestions from courts and others who are critical of police actions rather than just criticisms.


My Mum works with lots of young autistic adults and it really isn't as easy to "control" these young people as you might imagine. She's five foot five and considerably smaller than most of the people she works with so doesn't really have a hope in hell if they kick off. She was a police officer for 15/16 years so has a pretty good understanding of the way things should be dealt with but sometimes the only option is to leave it to people who have the powers, training and equipment to deal with this sort of thing.