Nottingham

Nottinghamshire Police sorry for pregnant woman assault

Lynnette Wallace
Image caption Lynnette Wallace said she was "repeatedly punched" on the upper arm after refusing to be handcuffed

A police force has apologised to a woman five years after she was handcuffed for 11 hours, stripped to the waist and assaulted while pregnant.

Lynnette Wallace, 44, from Aspley, was 30 weeks into her pregnancy and said her ordeal led to a premature birth.

Nottinghamshire Police's Chief Constable, Chris Eyre, apologised and admitted after she was handcuffed for a second time it, "amounted to assault".

However, her claims have been "strongly contested" by the Police Federation.

'Repeatedly punched'

Ms Wallace was arrested on suspicion of arson in 2011 - although subsequent charges were later dropped - and was taken into custody at Bridewell police station where she was assessed as being at a risk of self-harming.

She claimed she was handcuffed behind her back for 11 hours and stripped of all of her clothes above her waist, including her bra, by male officers.

She said was also denied the opportunity to arrange childcare for her children while in custody.

Later, when she was moved to another cell she said she was "repeatedly punched" on the upper arm after refusing to be handcuffed.

Image copyright Lynnette Wallace
Image caption Lynnette Wallace says her now four-year-old daughter Charna, still suffers the effects of her premature birth

In a letter, Mr Eyre told Ms Wallace it was "inexcusable the use of handcuffs was not reviewed" and the "re-application of handcuffs amounted to an assault".

He added: "I accept you were caused significant distress and an affront to your dignity. I wish to apologise for those failings."

Ms Wallace said she was still "angry" over the events and claimed her now four-year-old daughter, Charna, had ongoing problems as a result of being born prematurely - 48 hours after her arrest.

"It was an awful experience to go through, the handcuffing, being stripped," she said.

"My daughter is still suffering. She has eyesight problems, an eating disorder and struggles with infections."

In 2013, the force found an inspector and two sergeants guilty of "gross misconduct" for their part in Ms Wallace's treatment and they were disciplined.

Image caption Ms Wallace said she had been handcuffed for 11 hours in the custody suite at Bridewell police station

In a statement, the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said: "Following a reinvestigation into the treatment of Lynnette Wallace while in custody of Nottinghamshire Police in July 2011, the IPCC has passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

"We will look to publish the findings of our investigation at the conclusion of any legal action."

Four PCs, two custody sergeants and two duty inspectors may face charges as a result.

However, Phill Matthews from the Police Federation said all of the officers "deny any assault or wrongdoing" when the handcuffs were re-applied on Ms Wallace.

He said: "No officer has ever been criticised or been found wanting regarding any criminal or other type of assault to Ms Wallace.

"No medical or other evidence has ever been produced to show a link between her custody and the early birth of her daughter."

Mr Matthews added he was unaware of any further action being taken against the officers involved.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites