Officer to undergo reflective practice over ‘inappropriate’ language during arrest of girl

A West Yorkshire Police officer is to undergo reflective practice following the arrest of a 16-year-old girl in Leeds in August last year.

Feb 27, 2024
By Paul Jacques

Video footage showing part of the arrest was shared widely on social media at the time and showed the girl being arrested and being led from a house by officers.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the video “attracted considerable public concern” with “inappropriate” language used by one of the officers towards the girl.

The IOPC said it began an investigation following a voluntary referral from West Yorkshire Police linked to a complaint made following the detention of the girl at a residential address in Leeds in the early hours of Monday August 7.

It said the investigation looked at one of the officer’s actions and interactions with the girl on the night to determine whether they were “appropriate and proportionate” in line with approved police policies and training.

The IOPC  added: “We established that officers were called to Leeds city centre to a disturbance involving the girl and officers made the decision to take her back home, rather than make an arrest.

“Once back at the home address, the evidence suggested a potentially homophobic comment was made by the girl, which the officer believed was directed towards her.

“The evidence identified that the comment made was not as was reported on the short clip which appeared on social media.  As a result, the officer took the decision to arrest the girl in relation to this offence.

“We concluded that West Yorkshire Police officers at the address on the whole did attempt to de-escalate the situation and the level of force used appeared to have been appropriate in the circumstances.

“However, we did find that some of the language used by one of the officers towards the girl was inappropriate and was not conducive to de-escalating the situation.”

The investigation found that the officer did not have a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct. However, the IOPC decided that it would “be appropriate for the officer to undertake reflective practice – to reflect and learn from the incident to prevent any issues identified from re-occurring, as their actions fell short of the expectations of the public and the police service as set out in the Code of Ethics”.

IOPC Regional Director Emily Barry said: “We understand the video that was circulated at the time attracted considerable public concern and that is why it was important that the circumstances of this incident were subject to an independent investigation so we could fully understand what happened and impartially determine the facts.

“Our investigation looked at the whole picture of the incident and we decided the officer should now work with their supervisor to reflect, learn and improve from what occurred, to prevent this from happening again.

“We also felt that a letter of apology should be sent to the girl and the family in attempt to remedy any dissatisfaction. The force agreed with this suggestion and have written to the family.”

As part of the inquiries, investigators obtained accounts from the officers involved and reviewed body-worn video. The investigation also considered the officer’s actions against local and national policy, procedures and guidance.

“At the end of our investigation our report was shared with West Yorkshire Police who agreed with our findings,” said the IOPC.

“We carefully considered whether there were any learning opportunities arising from the investigation.

“We make learning recommendations to improve policing and public confidence in the police complaints system and prevent a recurrence of similar incidents. In this case, the investigation did not identify any learning.”

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