Essex

Colchester officers cleared over cell toilet finger severing

cell door
Image caption The man lost the tips of three fingers in a cell in 2015

Five police officers have been cleared of excessive use of force after a man suffered injuries on a cell toilet.

The 33-year-old man got his fingers caught under the metal rim of a toilet seat at Colchester police station, severing the ends, a hearing was told.

A misconduct panel at Chelmsford Civic Centre cleared four Essex Police officers of all charges.

But Insp Christopher Tyler's behaviour was found to amount to gross misconduct.

Sgt Marcus Buckley, PC Joseph Hawthorne, PC Nicholas Pulham and PC Richard Philipsen were all cleared of of any wrongdoing in relation to the incident.

The man, a Romanian national referred to as Mr S, who has mental health issues, was arrested on 30 April after a driver reported him for exposing himself on a bus.

He injured his fingers when officers tried to pull him away from the cell toilet at about 02:00 BST on 2 May 2015.

Insp Tyler, who has since retired from the force, was found to have behaved inappropriately by laughing and joking about the incident and would have received a written warning had he still been in post, the force said.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The incident happened in a custody cell at Colchester police station in 2015

The Essex Police Federation criticised how long it took for the case to be heard, time during which officers had been held back from promotion and required to have a chaperone while in custody suites.

Chairman Steve Taylor said: "It is wholly unjustified that our five colleagues have spent four years under the strain of a legacy investigation by the now-defunct Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which has a history of dragging its heels in failed investigations.

"This investigation was a complete waste of public money."

Essex Police echoed his disappointment at the length of the investigation.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: "I would like say how sorry I am that this man was injured while in an Essex Police custody suite."

A spokeswoman for the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), which replaced the IPCC in 2018, said: "This was a complex investigation during which we interviewed a number of officers under criminal caution.

"There was an added complication of the receipt of an additional referral in late 2015 which expanded the scope of our work."

The spokeswoman added the IOPC investigation concluded in November 2017 and it was Essex Police which scheduled the hearing.

Image caption The police misconduct panel was held at Chelmsford's Civic Centre

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