Leeds & West Yorkshire

Man with Asperger's wrongly handcuffed by police

James Henderson
Image caption James Henderson, who has Asperger Syndrome, was awarded damages after being handcuffed by police

A police force has paid damages to a man with Asperger Syndrome who was wrongly handcuffed and put in the back of a police van.

James Henderson, 39, of Huddersfield, was held in April 2017 after a woman rang officers because he was "shouting about random things".

Lawyers for Mr Henderson said officers deleted bodycam footage and "lacked understanding".

West Yorkshire Police said the force has not accepted legal liability.

It does acknowledge the findings of an appeal to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), it said.

Officers were called to Westborne Road in Huddersfield by a woman who was concerned about Mr Henderson walking behind her and a friend "shouting random things".

The woman told police she felt threatened by his "erratic behaviour" but was more concerned with Mr Henderson's welfare, and did not want to report any offence.

'Aggressive behaviour'

Mr Henderson was "almost immediately handcuffed" and taken home in the back of a police van, his lawyers said.

The female officer claimed she had felt threatened by his "aggressive behaviour".

An initial internal investigation by the force sided with officers and defended the decision to delete the bodycam footage.

But an appeal to the IOPC found Mr Henderson should not have been handcuffed or taken home against his will.

It also said the footage should not have been deleted.

West Yorkshire Police has agreed an out-of-court damages settlement with Mr Henderson.

Two officers had management action taken against them and had been given a guide for dealing with people with autism, the force said.

The officers felt Mr Henderson had exhibited "aggressive drink-fuelled behaviour" and the well-being of all involved was the key concern throughout, it said.

The force voluntarily retains all bodycam footage for 90 days, longer than the recommended 31-day period, it added.

Samantha Thompson, of Hudgell Solicitors who represented Mr Henderson, said lessons had to be learned and there was "a clear lack of understanding on how to deal with members of the public who suffer from such disorders".

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