'Cell assault' sergeant sacked by Wiltshire Police
- 23 December 2010
- From the section Wiltshire
A policeman convicted of assaulting a woman in custody and later cleared on appeal has been sacked by the Wiltshire Police force.
Sgt Mark Andrews was filmed dragging Pamela Somerville through Melksham police station custody area.
A disciplinary panel has now decided he was not of sufficient standard to be an officer in the force and he has been dismissed with immediate effect.
Sgt Andrews will now appeal to the Chief Constable of Wiltshire.
If that is unsuccessful he will make a further appeal to an appeals tribunal.
The disciplinary inquiry by neighbouring Gloucestershire Constabulary was held in private.
It examined Sgt Andrews' dealings with Ms Somerville during the incident in July 2008.
The officer was found guilty of causing actual bodily harm and jailed for six months in September.
Sgt Andrews spent six days in prison, but was released on bail pending the appeal at Oxford Crown Court.
The appeal judge, Mr Justice Bean, said after the four-day hearing in November he was satisfied that Sgt Andrews did not intend to throw Ms Somerville into the cell and that injuries she suffered "were probably caused by her falling to the floor after letting go of the door frame".
Wiltshire's Assistant Chief Constable Pat Geenty said: "Whilst respecting that decision our concern was such that it was felt appropriate to independently examine whether any police conduct breaches had occurred hence the conduct hearing that has now concluded."
He said: "We have always accepted that Pamela Somerville was injured whilst in our care and I want to apologise again to her for the way she was treated whilst in our care.
"We acknowledge that there has been substantial media coverage and public interest in this case and that the images on the custody CCTV will have had an impact on the force and those who work within it.
"The criminal appeal hearing concluded that Pamela Somerville had been lawfully arrested, was intoxicated, very unco-operative, verbally abusive, and disruptive to the processes which the law required the police to carry out.
"Nevertheless this conduct hearing has concluded that Sgt Andrews's actions, whilst not criminal, fell well below the standards expected.
"I hope that this decision will be of comfort to Pamela Somerville who was injured whilst in our care and I want to emphasise that she had not committed any crime.
"The public can be reassured that their safety remains our top priority and we will learn any lessons that need to be learnt to reduce the chance of any such future incident.
"The public can also be reassured by the fact that this incident was first reported by another police officer."
Mr Geenty added: "We are not complacent and we welcome the fact that the Wiltshire Police Authority has commenced its own independent review of our custody practices."
Allan Johns, chairman of Wiltshire Police Authority's professional standards committee, said it respected the decision of the panel.
He said: "It would be premature to comment on the outcome of the proceedings at this stage because of the possibility of an appeal hearing.
"There is little doubt that the substantial media coverage and custody CCTV footage has damaged the reputation of the force and those who work within it.
"Wiltshire Police Authority is very concerned to ensure that public confidence is restored and with this in mind will carefully study the outcome of this case alongside its independent review of Wiltshire custody to identify any lessons to be learned."