Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You're not doing yourself any favours here...

I occasionally have a go at the police here, though I'll be the first to admit that there are some situations where come what may, they just are not going to come out of something looking good. There are however a few situations where a simple admission that they got something wrong and backing off would help, a little.
Police officers assaulted a 16-year-old boy with severe autism by forcing him into handcuffs and leg restraints during a school trip, the High Court has ruled.
Judges said the boy, who is now 19, and also suffers from epilepsy, had his human rights breached after he was subjected to unlawful disability discrimination and false imprisonment.
He was awarded £28,250 in damages following the incident at a swimming pool in Acton, west London, in 2008.
However, the Met has signalled its intention to appeal against the decision.
The boy was physically removed from the swimming pool and forcibly restrained after he jumped into the water fully clothed.
The court heard it was the first time police in London had been found to have subjected a member of the public to inhuman or degrading treatment, and to disability discrimination.
Let's face it, there's never going to be a great defence of your actions involving the words child, severe autism, handcuffs and leg restraints. I can accept that a 16 year old can be quite big, and with autism can be difficult to control, however a quick word with the people in charge of the boy (as I doubt he'd be out by himself) could have warned them as to the consequences of their action, still, what was done was done and a court case ensued.
You'd have thought though that someone in the PR dept of the Met would have had a quiet word with the legal dept about going for an appeal. There is no way that going for an appeal against compensation for restraining a disabled, severely autistic young man is going to look good even if you feel you have a good case to appeal. That plus there is the fact that you aren't doing it with your own money, it's coming out of the ratepayers pocket too.
There are times when it's wise to simply cut your losses, this was one of them.

5 annotations:

JuliaM said...

And so the next time they don't restrain one, and he hurts himself, they wind up in the dock for that too?

Give them a break here - they really ARE damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Quiet_Man said...

I am giving them a break, I don't have a problem with them doing as they did, however I don't think appealing against the decision is the smart thing to do.

Woodsy42 said...

The problem is that front line ordinary police personnel and management, the instructions/policies they work under are always conflated into 'the police'.

JuliaM said...

If they don't appeal a wrong decision, they will be bound by it's precedent forevermore.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little 'conflicted' with this one.

This story 'smells' a little too. An autistic (you can't be specific since it is a spectrum disorder) in general follows routines, disliking change and novelty, yet here he is supposed to have simply jumped into a pool fully clothed?

Then for an extended period resisted any attempts to remove him by his carers. Why extended, because the police, as far as I know don't base themselves at swimming pools.

Then, when removed from the pool his carers walk away and leave it to the police to calm and control his behaviour? And further, the boy responds with what has to have been a substantial amount of violence to require restraints (something which is atypical, as opposed to forceful behaviour towards themselves).

I have dealt with people with multiple different mental problems, including Aspergers and others on the autism spectrum, and I can't think of a single incident which would come close to having this sort of result (admittedly I'm no expert or even specialist with limited experince).

So what really happened? Obviously I don't know but I suspect the boy has more than just autism (not unusual). I suspect that there was a significant incident which led to him entering (maybe even not voluntarily) the pool. I suspect the 'carers' were incompetent, incapable and just downright didn't do their job. I also suspect the police arrived to find a young man in the pool, removed him and then restrained him due to a violent reaction (all without either knowing or fully understanding his condition, not that either makes a difference in how he would react to them).

So the police are vilified and the boy (or in reality his family and carers get a load of cash). Like I said, it smells.