A METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER, PC Benjamin Kemp, based at MPS North East Command, was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed with immediate effect after a police disciplinary panel concluded that he used excessive force on a 17 year old Black girl with learning disabilities in East London in May 2019. The girl’s name has been anonymised as XAB to protect her identity.
Following the incident, a police complaint was made by the girl’s mother and NHS Trust staff members resulting in an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
At the hearing, which took place between 28 and 30 April 2021, PC Kemp admitted breaching the standards of professional behaviour in relation to authority, respect and courtesy at the level of ‘misconduct’ but denied using excessive force.
The misconduct panel heard that the teenager had run away from a group while on an escorted walk and having become distressed flagged down a police car near a main road. The girl informed officers that she was a vulnerable child with mental health issues. She initially agreed to get into the police car but then exited. The panel heard that PC Kemp attempted to handcuff her and when this was unsuccessful he used CS spray less than a metre from her face. Within seconds he started using his baton and in total struck her up to 34 times. The panel concluded that PC Kemp was striking her with his baton during and after she was Tasered by another officer.
At the hearing, it was determined by the panel that PC Kemp breached police standards of professional behaviour relating to ‘use of force’, and ‘authority, respect and courtesy’, and that gross misconduct was proven.
XAB’s cousin, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “Having listened to two days of evidence I am shocked at the extent of force that XAB was subjected to by PC Benjamin Kemp. Rather than helping her as he should have done, he violently assaulted her, using up to 34 baton strikes and CS spray. Instead of showing any remorse, PC Kemp has spent the last two days trying to justify his actions. I am beyond happy that the panel entirely rejected his evidence. I feel the panel’s decision rightly reaffirms the standards police officers must be held to in dealing with vulnerable members of the public. It also sends a message of hope to the Black community that accountability can be achieved”.
Sophie Naftalin, of Bhatt Murphy, solicitor for XAB said: “This is a deeply disturbing case where a Black child with learning disabilities was brutalised and assaulted by a police officer in circumstances where she needed care and protection. There have been too many cases of disproportionate force being used by police officers upon members of the Black community. Today’s finding of gross misconduct and dismissal by the panel sends a powerful message that more needs to be done by the Metropolitan Police to train frontline officers in how they deal with vulnerable members of the public. We also call on the CPS to review its decision not to charge PC Kemp with assault”.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “We found the force used by police in this case was neither reasonable nor proportionate and would be shocking to most people. The body worn footage we gathered showed a girl clearly in distress who was subjected to at least 30 baton strikes, had CS spray administered at very close quarters and was then Tasered. Police officers are trained to deal with challenging situations and should only use force when it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable.
“The disciplinary panel also found PC Kemp had behaved in a manner which lacked self-control and did not take into account the vulnerable status of the teenager, who appeared very frightened.”
Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker of the Metropolitan Police, who leads policing for the North East, said: “This is a very serious matter with utterly inappropriate use of force used against a vulnerable teenage girl.
“The use of force by any police officer must be proportionate and justified and we are trained to use it in a way that keeps everyone involved safe. PC Kemp did not behave or use his equipment in accordance with his training; he over-reacted, used excessive force in a very disproportionate manner and was unprofessional. For that he has been held to account, and has been rightly dismissed from the service. I can assure you his actions are not representative of how we deal with situations like this in Newham and across London.
“On behalf of the Met, I apologise to the young woman and her family for how he behaved and to London’s wider communities for the impact this case undoubtedly has on the trust and confidence they have in how we police London. They and the people of London rightly expect the highest standards from their officers and on that day PC Kemp let everyone down.
“The Met are called many thousands of times each year to mental health related incidents and we respond to help those at their most vulnerable, saving lives and preventing serious injury. In the vast majority of these cases police do a very difficult job with great compassion and sensitivity, responding to what are essentially medical emergencies. Our work is so important here and we are sincere about our desire to learn and develop and continually review our policies and procedures and our work with partner agencies to see what more we can do to help those most in need at times of crisis.”
* Source: Bhatt Murphy Solicitors