22nd July 2020

In February 2019 a member of the public was arrested for assault and causing criminal damage.  Whilst he was waiting for treatment at a hospital, after swallowing an unknown substance while in custody, P.C. William Russell applied a spit hood to the man and slapped his face three times.  The P.C. also made a derogatory comment.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) conducted an independent investigation into the incident.  The IOPC have the power to independently investigate the more serious complaints made against Police Officers.

Following the IOPC investigation a report was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  who decided P.C. Russell should face a criminal prosecution.

In December 2019 P.C. Russell was acquitted following a trial before the Magistrates Court.

After the conclusion of the criminal case Kent Police held a gross misconduct hearing in relation to the allegations against P.C. Russell.

P.C. Russell accepted his conduct fell below the standards of professional behaviour in relation to two of the slaps and the derogatory comment.

The unjustified/excessive use of force, by applying the spit hood and the third slap were not proven.

The Police Officer received a written warning for his actions.

The IOPC published details of the case on 30 April 2020 and commented:

“While P.C. Russell was acquitted at the criminal trial, Kent Police agreed the Officer should face a gross misconduct hearing, and their panel has come to its decision.

The community entrusts Police to use the powers they have responsibly and appropriately.  Most Officers do so, but when this does not occur, it is important there is an independent oversight and accountability, and any lessons to be learned are identified”.