Three Bedfordshire Police officers have been sacked after they were found to have committed gross misconduct for their honesty and integrity in accounts given about a man’s condition after he was seriously injured in Bedford.
On 6 May 2013, Julian Cole, who was 20 at the time, was involved in a scuffle with police outside what was Elements nightclub on Mill Street, Bedford. He was left with catastrophic neck injuries that led to brain damage and paralysis. After a lengthy investigation it was found that none of the officers were to blame for causing the injuries. However, the officers were accused of breaching their code of conduct for honesty and integrity for accounts they gave of Mr Cole’s condition following the incident.
They were found to have lied about Mr Cole’s condition in statements either in their pocket notebooks, during interviews or both. The misconduct panel sitting in Stevenage today, said that the three officers’ breaches amounted to gross misconduct and they were dismissed without notice.
They were all found to have breached the standard concerning duties and responsibility amounting to misconduct in relation to failing to carry out adequate welfare checks.
Another officer, Sgt Andrew Withey, who was dealing with other elements of the incident while Mr Cole was arrested and taken to the van, was found to have breached the code of conduct for failing to carry out welfare checks on the teenager when he was at the back of the van. The panel ruled his conduct amounted to be misconduct and he was given a final written warning.
Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire said: “At the centre of our thoughts today are of course Julian Cole, his family and friends. This case is an absolute tragedy, which has had a devastating effect on a young man and his loved ones, and we should not forget that.
“That said, there are a number of things to highlight about this case. Firstly, it is entirely right that proper independent investigations were carried out, to collect and review all of the evidence impartially and decide whether there was any criminal conduct, professional misconduct, or any actions which could have prevented this awful situation and, crucially, whether any lessons could be learned to prevent such an occurrence happening in the future.
“This hearing in essence reviewed a seven minute encounter which took place more than five years ago, and I agree with the panel that the length of time the IOPC and CPS enquiries have taken to get to this stage is simply unacceptable to Mr Cole, his family, the officers concerned and the force. On far too many occasions investigations such as these take years to come to a resolution and this cannot be right.
“It is clear that no evidence was found that any of the officers involved were in any way to blame for the catastrophic injuries suffered by Mr Cole.
“This misconduct hearing focused on the actions of our officers in the care given to Mr Cole and their honesty and integrity in the events following his injury. I apologise that their conduct following the incident fell well short of what we expect at Bedfordshire Police.
“Honesty and integrity is vital in policing. The public should be able trust that officers will always be truthful and open and act professionally at all times. Police officers must display the highest standards of integrity and truthfulness and three of our officers have faced the consequences of being found not to have done that today.”