26 March 2021 | Investigations
Investigation Report: Serious injury following police contact, Livingston
About 0100 hours on Thursday 11 April 2019, two police officers were on patrol in a marked police car in Livingston when they stopped a 4x4 car for a routine check due to a number of recent crimes involving high value cars in the area.
The officers explained the reason for the stop and undertook Police National Computer (PNC) checks on both men in the car. These checks revealed that there was an apprehension warrant for the 23-year-old front seat passenger, who was informed he was under arrest and asked to step out of the car.
As officers placed handcuffs on his left wrist, the man struggled violently punching one of the officers on the face. The man then shouted to the driver of the car to drive off and he did so with the other officer hanging out of the car holding onto the front seat passenger.
The officer managed to use his PAVA spray, causing the driver to stop and get out of the car. The other man then jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off at speed with the officer in the passenger seat of the car. The officer then managed to pull the steering wheel causing the car to come to a stop on the grass verge.
The 23-year-old man then got out of the car and slammed the car door against the arm of the officer several times causing him to lose his grip. He then ran off with the handcuffs still attached to his wrist. Meanwhile, the other officer had followed the car and arrested the other man (initial driver) when he left the vehicle.
The 23-year-old was found about 40 minutes later within the rear garden of a nearby house and arrested. He was found to have sustained a severe injury to his left hand. Subsequent enquiry showed that this most likely occurred when the man broke into a nearby hotel.
The man was taken to hospital by police where it was found he had ‘de-gloved’ and partially severed the small finger (pinky) of his left hand. He then underwent emergency surgery but the finger could not be saved and was amputated. The police officers sustained bruising and swelling as a result of being assaulted.
Both men man were charged with a number of offences and later convicted.
The publication of this report was delayed until these court proceedings were concluded.
REFERRAL TO THE PIRC
On 11 April 2019, Police Scotland referred the incident to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) in terms of Section 33A(c) of the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 as amended and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013 for consideration of investigation. At the time of the initial referral to the PIRC the exact circumstances of how the man came by his injury were not known and the incident was investigated.
During the course of the investigation, PIRC investigators visited the scene, obtained statements from and interviewed relevant police officers and conducted a CCTV survey of the location. They also examined Command and Control incident logs, Airwave radio recordings and training records.
The investigation finds:
- The man was solely responsible for the serious hand injury he sustained.
- The actions of both men placed the officers in severe danger.
- The officers displayed courage and determination in attempting to arrest the man.
- The use of PAVA spray by the officer in the circumstances was necessary and proportionate.
The Commissioner made no recommendations.