Woman arrest with young child on a First bus in Bedminster - police watchdog completes investigation

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Footage of the incident in December 2020 went viral on social media - leading to public concerns over the handling of th

Two police officers involved in the arrest of a woman who was with her young child on a bus in Bedminster should be given training to improve their communication style, a police watchdog has said.

The incident on a First bus in East Street, Bedminster, in December 2020 was investigated by the Independent Officer for Police Misconduct (IOPC) after the woman complained over the use of force.

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Captured on video which was shared on social media at the time, the woman was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker by police, who used PAVA spray and leg restraints on her.

She was also separated from her young child, who was placed in the care of a family member at the scene.

A bus unconnected to the incident in East Street (Credit: Google Maps)A bus unconnected to the incident in East Street (Credit: Google Maps)
A bus unconnected to the incident in East Street (Credit: Google Maps) | BristolWorld

The woman complained and the case was referred by Avon and Somerset Police to the IOPC, which in December published its findings, but not publicly.

A spokesperson for the IPOC said: “While we found no disciplinary case to answer for the police officers involved, we advised the force that both would benefit from reflective practice in respect of the manner in which they communicated with the complainant during the incident.”

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The IOPC said the findings were agreed on by Avon and Somerset Police, adding it understood both officers, who were interviewed as part of the investigation, were now receiving training.

The investigation, which has not been published for public viewing, also examined body camera footage.

Avon and Somerset Police issued a statement to BristolWorld this week on the IOPC investigation. The force also said no-one was ever charged following the woman’s arrest.

It said training was reviewed during the investigation, with a ‘cultural intelligence and community training programme’ provided for frontline officers.

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The statement said: “A complaint was made by a member of the public regarding how two police officers responded to an incident involving herself in front of her child on a bus in Bedminster on 16 December 2020.

“Her complaint was treated with the utmost seriousness and in the best interests of everyone involved, we determined it was only right we made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), and it chose to investigate the matter independently.

“The IOPC’s findings were presented in December 2021 and it determined both officers should take part in training to improve their communication style.

“The IOPC found there was no case to answer for other allegations, including discrimination and their use of force.

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“While awaiting the outcome of the IOPC’s investigation, we reviewed our de-escalation training process.

“We also commissioned a cultural intelligence and community training programme to assist our frontline officers with knowing how best to deal with any similar callouts in future and to better recognise, respect and value difference.

“Approximately 2,500 officers and staff have so far benefitted from such training, led by SARI, since it was launched in the autumn.

“Avon and Somerset Police are committed to being open and transparent, and during this process senior officers have communicated with key community figures about what occurred to reassure them steps are being taken to address the learnings raised.

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“Ultimately this was an incident no-one would have wanted to happen. We would never want a young mother, or our officers, to come to harm and particularly a child to find themselves in the middle of such an incident.

“We are a police service that is here to serve and protect everyone and we want our actions to generate respect and support from all our communities.”

The IPOC investigation findings were raised by the Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford at the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Panel meeting this week.

In an update document to the meeting, he said that the case will be reviewed by the Independent Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel at the end of this month.