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Met Police officer fired after assaulting black child with learning disabilities

06 May 2021

A 17 year-old who was an inpatient at a mental health unit was repeatedly struck by a Metropolitan (Met) police officer and had CS spray used on her after she became distressed after becoming separated from an escorted group on a day out.

PC Benjamin Kemp tried to handcuff her, then used CS spray in close range to her face and hit her 34 times with his baton.

The BBC reports the family's solicitors saying it was a "deeply disturbing case where a black child with learning disabilities was brutalised". The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said that there is no evidence that race was a factor.

The girl’s family released a statement saying: "Rather than helping her as he should have done, he violently assaulted her, using up to 34 baton strikes and CS spray."

A disciplinary panel heard that a member of the public had called the police after seeing the girl and being concerned. The girl also flagged down a police car, and body-cam footage shows her telling its occupants she had mental health disabilities. She agreed to get into the car, but then got out.

Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker said the force used was "utterly inappropriate".

IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem described the incident as "shocking". He said: "Immediately resorting to use of force without considering other de-escalation tactics, and particularly where the person involved has mental health issues, is of concern…PC Kemp's immediate reaction when the girl exited the police car was to try and handcuff her, even though he didn't have her under his control…The poor communication by this officer got the incident off to a bad start and, once he started to use the baton, he was unable to change tack."

DR UK’s Kamran Mallick said: “That a Disabled child who has sought help and even clearly disclosed their disability to a trusted authority figure can be abused in this way is truly shocking. It must have been an utterly terrifying experience for her and will highly likely cause ongoing trauma.

“It is evident that the Met’s diversity and equality training is sorely lacking if an officer’s instinct is to behave in this way towards a Disabled person in distress. We are urgently seeking clarification from the Met about the nature and duration of its training with regards to how it approaches and deals with Disabled people, and from the Minister for Crime and Policing about the training provided to other UK police forces.”

PC Kemp has been dismissed from the Met without notice and without prosecution.