A “comprehensive review” conducted by the police’s Directorate of Professional Standards of an arrest in Hackney on Monday, footage of which on social media shows a man being punched while restrained on the ground, has identified no misconduct on the part of officers.
Police were called to Mare Street on Monday morning to reports of a man racially abusing staff in a bank.
The unidentified man, 43, was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence. A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said that during the arrest the man attempted to bite officers.
The spokesperson has since confirmed that officers used force to place the man in handcuffs. While witnesses have claimed that the man was punched in the head, it is not clear from the footage where the punch thrown by the officer landed. The police did not respond to direct questioning on this point.
Footage captured of the incident shows a member of the public intervening and helping to calm the man, who repeatedly shouts “I’m in pain” while being held on the ground by officers.
While the police did not confirm how many officers became involved in the arrest, at least ten officers can be seen arriving as a crowd gathers around the man being restrained.
Hackney resident Joe Wilde, 25, said: “We saw the man’s face being pressed into the concrete pavement and him shouting that he was in pain.
“It would be good to see some footage from the police’s side, as what we saw was shocking and distressing.
“I found the involvement of the member of the public as shocking as the punch, as it appeared to take a passer-by to resolve the situation.
“I would have thought the police would be quite keen to clear up where the punch landed, and why it was necessary for so many officers to respond to the incident.”
The man was taken into police custody and later released under investigation.
A spokesperson for youth-led police monitoring group Hackney Account has said that the release of body-worn camera footage is “difficult” due to data protection issues, but stressed the importance of the police providing a “frame-by-frame explanation of what is happening and do that in an objective way”.
Hackney Account said: “An incident like this is very striking, as we have many police officers and vans and thousands of pounds worth of equipment involved, whereas one member of the public who has the right trust and relationship with someone can help de-escalate.
“This ties into the broader work we’re doing, trying to get officers to have better training on people with mental health issues or learning difficulties. Autism specifically is something that we’re working on.
“There is also a much broader conversation around investing in proper services to deal with these situations that are as well-equipped and well-funded as the police are.
“It doesn’t matter how many officers you’ve got, or how good your handcuffs are. If someone is in a serious amount of distress, it’s not going to help. It is going to make things worse.”
The group went on to call for a “transparent conversation about what constitutes a reasonable use of force, specifically in reference to the punch”, as well as a “genuinely independent scrutiny panel” with community buy-in and representation.
According to guidance from the National Police Library, the responsibility for the use of force is an individual decision made by the officer, with its use and extent governed by three “core questions”:
- Would the use of force have a lawful objective (e.g. the prevention of injury to others or damage to property, or the effecting of a lawful arrest) and, if so, how immediate and grave is the threat posed?
- Are there any means, short of the use of force, capable of attaining the lawful objective identified?
- Having regard to the nature and gravity of the threat, and the potential for adverse consequences to arise from the use of force (including the risk of escalation and the exposure of others to harm), what is the minimum level of force required to attain the objective identified, and would the use of that level of force be proportionate or excessive?
Hackney Account added: “If the police are not giving enough transparency about the reasoning around this case, then it should be going to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).”
A spokesperson for the Met said: “Met officers are highly trained to engage, explain and try to resolve situations, using reasonable force only when absolutely necessary.
“Officers have to make these judgement calls regularly on a daily basis, often in difficult, volatile and fast moving circumstances.
“They understand that their actions are subject to scrutiny and that the public have the right to hold them to account where appropriate.”
Basic Command Unit Commander Marcus Barnett said: “This incident was captured by multiple officers via body-worn video.
“I am aware that part of the footage may raise concerns in the community and as such I asked that the Directorate of Professional Standards review the incident and arrest.”