Wiltshire PC who Tasered naked man still faces IPCC inquiry

PC Lee Birch arriving at Bristol Crown Court

Chief Supt Paul Mills

First published in Latest News
Last updated

PC Lee Birch still faces an independent investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), despite being cleared today.

The commission will now consider whether PC Birch has breached the standards of professional behaviour expected of all police officers.

Chief Superintendent Paul Mills said on behalf of Wiltshire Police today: "On Sunday 23 December 2012 during the course of his duty, PC Lee Birch, a serving Wiltshire Police Officer, arrested Daniel Dove on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and assault of two police officers.

"Later, in a cell at Melksham Police Station, Daniel Dove was Tasered by PC Birch.

"The case against Daniel Dove was discontinued and subsequently, PC Birch was summonsed to court in relation to offences of actual bodily harm (ABH) and misconduct in a public office relating to the use of the Taser.

"Today at Bristol Crown Court, PC Lee Birch has been found not guilty of both charges.

"The use of Taser is one of a number of tactical options available to selected officers who have undertaken rigorous training and assessment.

"During their training, it is highlighted to officers that the level of force used must be reasonable and necessary to achieve the purpose.

"Officers are individually accountable for the amount of force they use on a person and will always have to justify their actions as being necessary and proportionate under the law.

"The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are currently conducting a managed investigation independently of Wiltshire Police.

"Their investigation will now consider whether PC Birch has breached the standards of professional behaviour expected of all Police Officers.

"Wiltshire Police have also commissioned an independent peer review by the College of Policing in relation to the Force Taser policy and procedures. This was to ensure that the force was in line with national standards and best practice.

"Although not specific to this case, we have accepted the recommendations from this review and have subsequently re-written our Taser policy. We have also changed our processes for the selection of Taser trained officers.

"Wiltshire Police wish to reiterate that it expects the highest standards of professional behaviour from its police officers and staff. Furthermore, there are a clear set of organisational values and behaviours that all officers and staff are expected to adhere to.

"Finally I also wish to emphasise that the safety of all detained persons in our care is of paramount importance and taken very seriously indeed.

"Due to the ongoing IPCC investigation, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time."

The IPCC said its investigation was being carried out by Gloucestershire Police under its direction and control and will consider whether the actions of PC Birch have breached standards of professional behaviour.

Four other Wiltshire Police officers are also subject to the investigation, the IPCC said.

The managed investigation is also looking at how Wiltshire Police professional standards department handled the incident, including why the IPCC was not advised when a complaint was made.

Mr Dove appealed to the IPCC in 2013 against Wiltshire Police not recording his complaint about his interaction with police.

During the appeals process Wiltshire Police recorded the matter as a complaint and referred it to the IPCC, and the IPCC then upheld the original appeal.

The IPCC initially decided to supervise an inquiry by Gloucestershire Police but later last year this became a managed investigation.

IPCC associate commissioner Guido Liguori said: "The IPCC managed investigation has been on hold pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings against the officer.

"It will now be progressed by Gloucestershire Police to consider under our direction whether PC Birch and four other officers have breached the standards of professional behaviour.

"It will also examine how the professional standards department at Wiltshire Police handled matters following the incident.

"The IPCC has particular concerns around the use of Taser in confined spaces including police cells and has asked all forces to notify us where a complaint involving Taser is made.

"The investigation will consider why the use of Taser wasn't brought to our attention earlier."

The IPCC has carried out a review of Taser use in England and Wales which is expected to be published shortly.

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