Police inspector faces misconduct case over Taser cell use

Burnley police station
Burnley police station

A Burnley police inspector faces a misconduct case after an independent investigation into the use of a Taser at Burnley Police Station.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) also recommended that a custody sergeant receive further training.

The investigations relate to the use of a Taser following a complaint by a detainee held in cells on September 15th, 2012.

Insp. Graeme Smith was found to have a case to answer for misconduct for not properly recording his decision-making rationale to authorise the use of Taser or properly carrying out a post-incident procedure relating to the incident.

A further performance issue was identified for Sgt Sean Graves whose “booking-in procedures and recorded rationales for dealing with the detainee could also have been stronger”.

The IPCC also expressed concern and brought to the force’s attention “inappropriate comments made by police officers both before and after Taser had been discharged”.

A separate IPCC investigation was also carried out into the use of a Taser on July 29th, 2012, following a complaint from the detainee.

The commission made recommendations to the force in this instance.

In both cases Lancashire Police said the detainees posed a risk of violence to officers while attempts were made to carry out strip searches.

James Dipple-Johnstone, the IPCC Commissioner for Lancashire, said: “The IPCC has a number of concerns about the use of Taser, including when it is used in confined spaces like police cells, where we believe it should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

“Although our investigations found that in both instances use of Taser could be justified, there are areas for Lancashire Constabulary to address.”

The force will now follow-up these matters with the officers “to ensure that learning from these events takes place”.

The IPCC looked at CCTV evidence and interviewed custody officers and those responsible for authorising Taser use.

Lancashire Police has also been asked to revisit guidance and training given to custody sergeants so that they are more aware of the procedures for use of Taser in custody suites.

As there were delays in both complaints being referred to the IPCC, Lancashire Constabulary has been reminded about the need to forward complaints in a timely manner.

Copies of the investigation reports have been published on the IPCC’s external website.