Police watchdog clears officers over arrest of Bermondsey teen which left him ‘seriously injured’

Josh Salisbury (18 April, 2019) Crime

The teenager was reportedly left suffering a seizure, lost teeth and bruising on the brain during the arrest

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The police watchdog has cleared officers who pushed a teenager off his bike in a case of mistaken identity in Bermondsey, leaving him reportedly suffering a seizure, lost teeth and bruising on the brain.

An officer involved in the arrest of the boy, then aged 15, pushed him off his bike into a shop front on Southwark Park Road in November 2017.

The News has chosen not to name or picture the minor and his injuries on this occasion.

Police had suspected the teen of being involved in a mobile phone robbery in Rotherhithe earlier that evening – but he was later found to not have been involved at all.

Pictures of his injuries circulated widely on social media, sparking a significant backlash.

However, the watchdog said there was no evidence that the officers involved had breached professional standards following an investigation lasting more than a year.

It said that officers saw a number of young people inside a park, including the teenager, whom police believed was the robber based on the description they had been given.

As officers arrived, the young people quickly left on their bikes.

The IOPC said it believed it “reasonable” for officers to suspect the youngsters of being involved in the robbery, and that they had left because of the police.

One of them was the fifteen-year-old, who cycled along the edge of Shuttleworth Park across Southwark Park Road before being pushed off by an officer causing “serious” injuries.

The IOPC said it was of the opinion the officer who pushed him reasonably believed he was trying to evade police.

However, it noted the College of Policing and the Metropolitan Police have no specific training for police making arrests of suspects on bikes, and it would raise this as something which might need to be clarified.

Finally it concluded the officers had not acted in a discriminatory way and were acting on the information provided to them.

IOPC Deputy Director General, Jonathan Green, said: “The teenager’s injuries were serious and I hope he is able to make a full recovery.

“Our investigation concluded that the police officers involved were acting on the information provided to them and were justified in believing he may have been a suspect in the robbery.

“We found a police officer was responsible for pushing the teenager off his bike and the resulting injuries. However, the investigation did not find evidence to question the honesty or reasonableness of the officer’s actions in the circumstances.

“Footage circulated in the media of this incident attracted a lot of public concern and discussion; it was right and proper that it be investigated independently.

“We will be working with the National College of Policing to see if work is required to clarify how a situation like this is best handled by officers in the future.”

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