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What is the value of Police Federation membership? In this series, members who have been assisted by the Federation in their time of need, speak about their experiences.
PC Steve Gorman suffered every officer’s worst nightmare when a man died in his custody and he found himself under intense scrutiny.
The Bedfordshire officer fell back on the Police Federation to guide and protect him through the Post Incident Procedure process and a subsequent investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and inquest.
PC Gorman was deployed in 2017 to stop a man suspected of carrying quantities of Class A drugs. “We had a plan in case he tried to swallow the drugs,” he explained. “But it didn’t work – he was able to mouth the drugs, and he ended up with clingfilm covering his windpipe.”
Despite officers’ best efforts to save him, he died. PC Gorman was in shock – a “rabbit in headlights”. But Jim Mallen, Chair of Bedfordshire Police Federation at the time, provided a reassuring presence. He engaged with investigators on the officers’ behalf and challenged any unnecessary requests.
PC Gorman has 20 years’ policing experience but found himself in unchartered waters. He said: “The morning after, I remember bursting into tears. My wife was pregnant, and it was supposed to be a happy time, but I was worried I could end up losing my job and going to prison. My parents had to read news reports of how violent we were. Luckily my wife is a Detective Inspector and was aware of the process.”
The IOPC delved through PC Gorman’s record of past arrests. They also accused the officers of assault as the deceased was had broken a paperclip-sized bone in his neck. (Later it was found that this could have been caused by the man being thrown down the stairs by people he was dealing to.
The Federation met with PC Gorman and colleagues throughout and provided the best legal representation available. At inquest it was found that the officers had no case to answer and they later received force commendations for their efforts to save the man’s life.
PC Gorman said: “You don’t realise the value of Police Federation membership until you’re in trouble – I’d have hated to have been in that position and fending for myself.”