August 21st, 2006

Do You Mind if I Put These On?

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

This is a bit belated but the site was down when it was current at the beginning of July so I couldn’t post about it. You can see the news story at the BBC News site.

Steven Graham, a Sandhurst Staff Sgt, was convicted of the manslaughter of PC Joe Carroll who died in a tragic road traffic accident in Northumberland in April.

Graham had been arrested following a domestic & was in the rear of the police vehicle when he grabbed the handbrake causing the police vehicle to crash at 70mph.

Graham was not handcuffed at the time. The officers were taking him to Newcastle police station as the cells at the nearest custody suite were full.

In what appears to be an attempt to shift the blame for the consequences of his action, Graham stated that “I believe that this whole incident could have been avoided had the cells at Hexham police station been able to receive prisoners… and if I had – as is the policy in other police forces – not been left unsrestrained & alone in the rear of the police vehicle when I was drunk.” 

I find it strange that currently my experience is that we have to justify why we handcuffed a prisoner rather than justify why we have not. From what I’ve seen in some other countries handcuffing is just about mandatory. What better way to signify to someone that their liberty has just been removed than handuffing them.

One of the early lessons I learned was that until you are back at either the police vehicle or the police station you never take your hand off the prisoner. It sems that we lose so many prisoners these days when they just run off that this particular lesson is no longer taught wherever new officers learn their trade these days.

I have no idea whether handcuffing Steven Graham would have saved the meaningless waste of another police officer’s life, I use it merely as an example of why handcuffing policy in the UK must change.

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  1. Ted says:

    In my force the recommended procedure is everyone gets handcuffed to the rear with few exceptions. Maybe children and elderly. . Even when cuffed they are not left alone in the back of a car. The standard place is the rear nearside seat (furthest from the driver). The second officer ALWAYS sits in the back with the prisoner to control him if required. I have never been asked to justify why I handcuffed someone. In fact our training is that if an uncuffed prissoner injures another officer we may be aked to justify why we did not cuff him.
    I would regard any serving member of the armed forces as a high risk due to their likely strength and physical fitness and would always handcuff them on arrest.
    That said whatever the reason Staff Sgt Graham was not restained that does not remove any of the responsibility for what happened from him.

    August 21st, 2006 at 23:27

  2. Dogsbody says:

    One of the first things my tutor constable told me was “Nobody gets in the back of my car without handcuffs on” And I have stuck to that rule ever since.
    The prisoner ALWAYS sits behind the front passenger seat and will put their seatbelt on (prevents them launching as far if they kick off!) and if I can help it, I don’t convey when i’m single crewed.

    (Thanks for the link – have also added you to my sidebar.)

    August 22nd, 2006 at 10:20

  3. Sebastian says:

    It seems to be very much common practise these days. The new breed of ‘police officer’ don’t search the back of their patrol cars before they go out, before or after a prisoner has been put in the back. They don’t handcuff, they leave them in the back of vehicles, alone and unsupervised, behind the driver. When you dare to tell them of their officer safety errors they look at you as if you are fillth. I have a theory that these people are too frightened to handcuff, to frightened to sit next to their prisoner, they seem too frightened to look at them even. Then they start to grizzle when they get whacked or worse. The prisoner has to be aware of who is in charge of him/her 9 times out of ten it isn’t the officer. I speak with 30 years of experience 28 of which was front line policing.

    August 24th, 2006 at 23:21

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