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Two Derbyshire police officers sacked after van incident

Two Derbyshire police officers have been sacked for gross misconduct after a woman suffered a head injury while being taken to custody.

PC Kris Sekhar and PC Wesley Collins were in tears after being "dismissed without notice" for the role they played when the complainant suffered a head injury while being detained in a police van.

Five police officers in total faced allegations during an eight-day misconduct hearing but PC Chloe Burrell, PC Hannah Butler and PC Stephanie Merrick had no action taken against them as their breaches of Police Professional Standards were found not to amount to misconduct.

The events all unfolded in the summer of 2019 after police arrested the complainant – who cannot be named for legal reasons – on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and suspicion of being in possession of drugs in Long Eaton. After her arrest, she was escorted and locked into a nearby police van.

While driving the detainee to the police station, body-worn camera footage appeared to show the woman acting drunkenly and aggressively in the cage part of the van.

Footage then showed PC Burrell swear at the detainee when she was locked inside the cage mechanism and the complainant was repeatedly banging the wall in a disruptive manner. 

Minutes later, PC Sekhar – driving the van – was found to have deliberately braked "sharply" and "for no good reason with the intention of causing an adverse effect on the detainee" after telling his colleagues at the back of the van to "brace" themselves. 

It was also proven that PC Sekhar did not tell the detainee to “brace” herself.

It is claimed the sharp braking (from 33mph to 21mph) led the complainant to sustain a head injury as it caused her to throw herself forward. 

After her arrival at the police station in Derby she was then taken to hospital.

PC Sekhar denied the complainant’s allegation stating the reason behind the sharp brake was because of a “cat on the road” – but the independent misconduct panel disagreed.

PC Collins was found to have been dishonest for giving a "misleading" police statement about the incident which was intended to protect his colleague PC Sekhar from scrutiny.   

It was heard when giving a statement to the force, PC Collins "concealed" details about the police vehicle braking “sharply” when it was accepted he would have had knowledge that was the case. 

Both officers could be seen in tears when their fate was heard. 

The defense teams of PC Sekhar and PC Collins urged the panel to hold off the “ultimate” action of dismissal, stating both officers have impressive records to their name and suggested a final written warning could be given instead.

However, the chair, legal expert Nick Stanage said that the pair’s actions had damaged Derbyshire police’s reputation and public confidence – therefore dismissal was the only option.

Mr Stanage said the panel “tried” to find ways in which dismissal could be avoided but given the circumstances involved it was not possible. 

Despite swearing at the detainee, the misconduct panel said PC Burrell’s actions were “isolated” and she had shown full remorse since the incident happened, therefore no action was deemed necessary.

The misconduct hearing has now concluded, ahead of what was its expected final day this Friday (July 16).

On the hearing’s first day (July 5) it was heard the complainant had, at the last minute, refused to give evidence during the hearing.

A Derbyshire police statement following the hearing said: “During the hearing, the panel heard all the evidence presented to them and decided that there was no finding of misconduct in relation to three of the officers present that evening and that they should face no sanction.

“The panel decided that two officers, PC Kris Sekhar and PC Wesley Collins, breached the standards of professional behaviour officers must adhere to.

“We expect our officers to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times and also to act with honesty and integrity.

“These two officers in this case failed to meet these expectations and have been dismissed." 

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