Police to get better training after disability driver was physically restrained for minor traffic offence in Poplar
PUBLISHED: 13:19 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 11 August 2020
Police who arrested a driver with a disability blue badge for stopping on a yellow line in Poplar are to get better training in how to handle incidents involving motorists.
That’s one of the conclusions of an independent investigation into why 38-year-old Youness Bentahar was arrested for “a minor traffic offence” and the behaviour of the officer who physically restrained him while he appeared to have a seizure during his arrest in Abbot Road in July last year.
A recommendation to improve the way officers deal with people suffering medical emergencies has been made this week in the Independent Office for Police Conduct report.
“This incident attracted significant public interest at the time,” the Conduct Office regional director for London Sal Naseem said. “We were concerned that Mr Bentahar’s apparent seizure was not taken seriously by some officers and it should have been.
“Our investigation looked at discrimination and use of force. A key part of our role is to help prevent these issues from happening again.”
The report stresses that “police have a common law duty of care to a detainee”. It concluded that the Met Police agreed “an officer should reflect on how he could have handled the incident better to avoid an alleged minor traffic offence escalating into a restraint”.
The officer himself was interviewed under criminal caution, although no charges were brought.
Likewise, the Crown Prosecution Service also took no action against Youness who was arrested in front of his wife and children on “suspicion of obstruction of the highway” under the 1980 Highways Act or allegedly “assaulting police and resisting arrest”.
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The report agrees there was “no case to answer for use of force and discrimination”.
Youness had refused to shift his car which was displaying a blue disability badge, so officers tried arresting him and then restrained him, during which he appeared to have a seizure, the inquiry found. He was taken to hospital as a precaution.
This included initial contact with Mr Bentahar and his wife, engaging with them and “any consideration to the children in the car”, the force used on him, the medical care provided and whether there was any evidence of discrimination on disability, race, gender and religion.
Police body video footage was examined over concerns around discrimination and interviews were carried out with independent witnesses. Other officers arriving at the parking incident gave Youness medical treatment before handing him to paramedics and takemn to hospital.
The investigation “highlighted the need for officers to understand the risks of not treating people assuming medical conditions or illnesses are not genuine”.
That officer has since taken part in a reflective practice review to “carry forward learning”, Scotland Yard confirmed today.
Commander Paul Betts, who heads the Met’s Professional Standards office, said: “The officers were dealing with a difficult situation with a man who had resisted arrest, but as a force we want to learn and improve for the future. We teach that all officers involved in an incident have a responsibility to continually assess a detainee’s condition, particularly if restrained.
“However, we are always keen to learn and will implement any further training.”
The Independent Police Conduct investigators feel that “more could have been done” to adjust for disability as the car was displaying a blue badge.
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