IOPC investigation into use of force on teenage boy in Tottenham concludes
18 Nov 2021 11:47 AM
A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer will face gross misconduct proceedings following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the force used on a teenage boy outside a Tottenham secondary school.
We began our investigation on 10 December 2020 following a complaint from the boy and a referral from the MPS. Footage was shared widely on social media showing part of the incident in West Green Road, Haringey on 8 December 2020.
Six officers were on foot patrol and, due to recent intelligence on local crime trends, approached a group of Black teenage boys standing near to the school gates. BWV shows that after a short conversation, a police constable detained one of the boys for a search. The incident escalated when the officer attempted to handcuff the boy who either fell or was taken to the ground.
Evidence we gathered during our six-month investigation indicated that the officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct for breaching standards of professional behaviour for use of force and duties and responsibilities. It is alleged that the use of force was not necessary, reasonable or proportionate in the circumstances and that there were not reasonable grounds for searching the boy. It will be for the force to organise a hearing in due course.
It was also our opinion that the officer’s attitude towards the boy could have been considered disrespectful. We considered whether race and age bias was a factor in the officer’s decision making and could not rule this out although there was no evidence of overt racism. We did not believe these potential breaches of professional standards met the threshold for disciplinary action but felt there was an opportunity for learning and reflection for the officer, particularly around their understanding of why incidents like this, where force was used and escalated quickly against a young Black male in public, could be perceived or experienced as discriminatory.
The investigation found that another officer present during the incident, whose actions were recorded and widely shared on social media, did not attempt to de-escalate the situation and responded to taunts from the teenagers with unprofessional language that could be considered inflammatory. In line with our recommendation this will be considered as a practice requiring improvement and addressed through reflective practice.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem recently said:
“Police use of force is an area of serious concern for our communities and we recognise the potential for incidents like this to damage public confidence in the police.
“It will now be a matter for the police disciplinary panel, to determine whether the allegations are proven.”
During our investigation, we obtained statements from the officers involved and an eyewitness and examined footage from the officers’ body-worn video, CCTV and social media.