London, Aug 6, 2023 (IANS): A sergeant in the UK’s West Midlands Police has been cleared of gross misconduct allegations relating to his treatment of a Sikh man in custody in 2021, following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The Sikh man had complained that his patka, a religious head covering, was forcibly removed at the Perry Barr custody suite in Birmingham, leaving him traumatised.
Identified as Randeep Singh-Kular by the Express & Star newspaper, he also claimed that the disrespectful manner in which he had been treated during the October, 2021 incident, was racial discrimination.
After a two-day hearing before an independent panel on Tuesday, the sergeant, who removed the head covering, was found not to have breached police professional standards for authority, respect and courtesy, use of force, and equality and diversity.
The allegations concerned his handling of the situation and his decision to remove the man’s head covering.
The panel made an order that the officer should not be named in any reports from the proceedings, which were organised by West Midlands Police.
“Part of our role is to address incidents involving the police which have significant community impact. This matter caused local unrest, and we established early on that, contrary to some reports, the man’s head covering had not been stamped on,” Derrick Campbell, IOPC Regional Director for the West Midlands, said.
“We carried out a thorough investigation and from the evidence gathered it was our opinion that for one officer there was a case to answer for gross misconduct. That evidence has now been heard before a police disciplinary panel which found the allegations not proven,” Campbell said.
The IOPC’s investigation assessed the actions of seven officers after a complaint was referred to them regarding the treatment of a man in custody in October 2021.
The panel had assessed body worn video and CCTV footage from the custody suite as well as accounts from the complainant and officers in attendance.
Following Singh-Kular’s complaint, a protest was held outside the Perry Barr custody suite in 2021, after which West Midlands Police issued a statement saying that neither the patka was forcibly removed, nor was it stamped on.
They said an officer removed it in a private room and it fell on the floor at one stage, but “was immediately retrieved and at no point was it stamped on”, adding that the images shared on the social media were “misleading”.