Investigation into teenager pushed from bicycle in South London completed

5 Apr 2019 02:39 PM

Officers involved in the arrest of a teenager injured when pushed from his bicycle acted consistently with information they had received about a robbery in the area an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation has concluded.

An officer pushed the 15-year-old from his bicycle into a shop front on Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, south London in November 2017.

The teenager had been suspected of being involved in a robbery in Rotherhithe earlier that evening and was arrested but later found to have not been involved in the crime.

The matter was referred to the IOPC by the Metropolitan Police due to the injuries the boy sustained and an investigation was launched.

During the investigation we found no evidence to suggest any of the officers involved may have breached their professional standards of behaviour.

We examined the reasons behind police officers attempting to stop the teenager, the level of force used to prevent him leaving the area and whether the actions of any officers were discriminatory on the basis of his age and race.

A number of police officers on Southwark Park Road at about 9pm on 21 November 2017 saw a group of young people inside a park, including the 15-year-old who matched the description of the robbery suspect.

We found evidence that a description of the suspect who snatched the phone, provided to the police and circulated to officers, informed their decision making and that they held a genuine belief the teenager was that suspect.

At the time the police arrived, CCTV footage shows the group of young people quickly leaving the area on bicycles.

We were of the opinion it was reasonable for officers to think their presence was the reason the young people left, and that they may have been involved in the robbery.

One of those young people was the teenager, who cycled along the edge of Shuttleworth Park, across Southwark Park Road onto the pavement where he was pushed from his bicycle by an officer.

We were of the opinion the officer who pushed him reasonably believed the teenager was attempting to evade police and that he had to make a split-second decision about whether to try and stop him.

We noted that the College of Policing and the Metropolitan Police have no specific training or guidance for officers conducting pursuits of suspects on bicycles and we are in discussions about whether this is an area of policing practice that needs to be clarified.

Finally we were of the opinion that the officers’ actions and decision making were not discriminatory but were reasonable based on the information provided to them.

IOPC Deputy Director General, Jonathan Green recently said:

“The teenager’s injuries were serious and I hope he is able to make a full recovery.

“Our investigation concluded that the police officers involved were acting on the information provided to them and were justified in believing he may have been a suspect in the robbery. We found a police officer was responsible for pushing the teenager off his bike and the resulting injuries. However, the investigation did not find evidence to question the honesty or reasonableness of the officer’s actions in the circumstances.

“Footage circulated in the media of this incident attracted a lot of public concern and discussion; it was right and proper that it be investigated independently.

“We will be working with the National College of Policing to see if work is required to clarify how a situation like this is best handled by officers in the future.”