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Written warning for PC who dragged violent suspect by handcuffs

Northern Accommodation Building Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption PC Nathaniel Foster had been working as a response officer based out of Northamptonshire Police’s Northern Accommodation Building in Kettering

A police officer who dragged a suspect around by his handcuffs has been given a final written warning.

PC Nathaniel Foster, from Northamptonshire Police, was found guilty of gross misconduct on Friday.

He had been found to have used disproportionate force and degrading language towards two separate suspects.

The hearing was told Mr Foster had used “unapproved” and “unsafe” methods to move one man, and had been “trying to punish” the other.

During a three-day hearing at Northamptonshire Police’s Wootton Hall headquarters, he faced allegations relating to incidents on 14 October and 19 November 2017.

The hearing was shown extensive bodycam camera footage of both incidents.

Mr Foster, an officer of 15 years’ experience, had been a response officer at the Northern Accommodation Building in Kettering.

Outlining the case, Elizabeth Briggs told the hearing that during the first incident, Mr Foster had held a suspect, identified only as CS, in a headlock while moving him to a cell at the Weekley Wood custody centre in Kettering.

She said the “unapproved” and “unsafe” technique would have put pressure on the suspect’s neck.

Miss Briggs said CS had been in a holding bay for violent or potentially violent suspects for 45 minutes. He had argued with officers and tried to bite one of them.

Image caption The three-day hearing at the force’s Wootton Hall headquarters heard PC Foster had used excessive force on two suspects in separate incidents

As a result he remained handcuffed and his legs were tied to prevent him kicking out.

When eventually moved to a cell, he twice attempted a “pogo-ing” move which involved him crouching and leaping up in the air.

It was then Mr Foster grabbed hold of CS in a headlock.

Once in the cell, Mr Foster used a “ground pin” technique to control CS, placing his knee on the top of his neck.

The suspect had to say he could not breathe twice before the officer removed his knee.

Mr Foster told the hearing he had feared CS had been trying to headbutt one of the other officers, which could have led to him “breaking jaws or noses”.

He added CS could have been dropped and may have cracked his head on the floor.

He denied applying pressure on CS’s neck.

‘Punched out cold’

The second incident saw a suspect, called AJ, detained in Corby.

Miss Briggs said once AJ had been handcuffed, Mr Foster had told him, “you won’t do that again, boy” before saying he was going to “drag” him.

Mr Foster then used “unlawful and disproportionate” force to drag AJ around by his handcuffs, causing his face to hit the ground and be grazed.

Giving evidence, Mr Foster said he had been told AJ had punched a woman “out cold” and been in a fight with another man.

He said he had been told AJ, probably under the influence of drugs, had punched through a car window.

He told the hearing when he had later seen himself on bodycam footage dragging AJ he had realised it was “disgraceful” but he had feared for his safety and that of his colleagues with “this violent, crazy individual”.

Mr Foster apologised for the language he had used, but said it had been “tactical communications” aimed at getting both suspects to stop resisting.

Counsel for Mr Foster, Alan Compton, said 30 different people had submitted character statements on behalf of his client.

The disciplinary hearing panel’s chairwoman, Jane Jones, said the suspects had not deserved the level of force or degrading statements they had been subjected to.

However, she said Mr Foster’s actions weren’t “typical” of his policing style.

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