Police Federation

Case study: Sussex - five year investigation

Nearly five years after an officer was investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), he is no closer to the closure he deserves.

The Sussex Police officer went to the aid of colleagues who were trying to arrest a violent man. The suspect was put in handcuffs and leg restraints and placed face down in the police van. On the way to custody he stopped breathing.

The officer recalls hearing shouting and then the man went very quiet. Officers' efforts to resuscitate him were recorded by a camera in the vehicle but were ultimately unsuccessful. Shortly after, the officer was accused of manslaughter alongside three other officers.

He said: "Our opinion was that the man’s death was caused by drugs in his system and that we had done everything we could to save him – so the charges came as a real shock.”

Body-worn-video backed the officers' claims of having done nothing wrong. And the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) concurred that there was no criminal case to answer. The victim's family took up their right to a review but again the decision came back in the
officers’ favour.

The IOPC was not prepared to let the matter rest. It refused to accept Sussex Police’s position that the officers had not breached the standards of professional behaviour and they ended up at a gross misconduct hearing. They were exonerated by the panel and all
submissions by the IOPC were rejected.

The officer feels he and his colleagues were “hounded” by the IOPC. He said: "I took a month off after the hearing, partly from stress. This has had a huge impact on my family – my father died without knowing if I would be cleared. It has made me question whether I want to stay in policing."

The Sussex force stood by them during the four and a half years and none were suspended. However one resigned from policing because of the length of time the investigation was taking. An inquest in 2019 ruled that the man’s death was not an unlawful killing.

Anonymous Officer
Sussex Police

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