Federation official argues officers are subject to double standards by police watchdog despite being acquitted at court.
Officers who are cleared of wrongdoing in the courts are subject to â€œdouble standardsâ€ if they then have to face a misconduct hearing, a Police Federation official has said.
Mike White, Chairman of the Wiltshire branch board questioned the public interest in pursuing a professional standards investigation or misconduct hearing if an officer has been held to account and cleared of wrongdoing at court.
He was speaking after PC Lee Birch was found not guilty of committing actual bodily harm and misconduct in a public office after he discharged a Taser at a naked man in a police cell.
Despite being cleared through the courts, the officer is now subject to an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation, which will look at whether he breached the standards of professional behaviour.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com Mr White said that the impact of this case could result in officers using Taser less within the force and senior officersâ€™ scrutinising its use more.
He said: â€œIf the use has been deemed lawful in a court, why are they going through a disciplinary process for using Taser?
â€œThere appears to be double standards for police officers. When MPs and politicians are found not guilty in courts that is enough but it is not the case for officers.
â€œThe result of this could be that officers will think again before using Taser and that could cause some issues.
â€œIt could make a difference in the way the force reacts to possible complaints and they could go to the â€˜nthâ€™ degree when investigating, which could have an impact on the officers subject to such an investigation.
â€œIt could also put a halt to the future roll out of Taser.â€
Mr White said that he would be writing to the local MP questioning whether the IPCCâ€™s press release outlining the investigation adhered to government guidelines and the basic principles of fairness.
He added: â€œThrough experience, police officers learn to recognise the signs of escalating violence, often having to make split second decisions on the most appropriate response.
â€œLee is an experienced, honest, hardworking and professional police officer who, on recognising an increasing threat of violence, responded in a way which the jury deemed to be proportionate, lawful and appropriate.
â€œAs well as the messages of support from officers, many have voiced their concerns over the â€˜double jeopardyâ€™ that police officers face in such circumstances.
â€œPolice officers are not, and never should be, immune to being held accountable for their use of force. However, in this case, Lee Birchâ€™s actions have already been scrutinised, in public, in a court of law. I question whether it is genuinely in the public interest to pursue misconduct proceedings against officers in such cases.â€
Following the conclusion of the court case the force commissioned an independent peer review by the College of Policing in relation to policy and procedures surrounding Taser.
From Police Oracle