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Met Police come under fire for launching compensation appeal

Friday, February 15th, 2013

The Metropolitan Police have come under attack from the father of an autistic child who was awarded compensation for false imprisonment.

In 2012, the police were judged to have falsely imprisoned and discriminated against an autistic boy and paid the family compensation.

The police have now launched an appeal, stating the judgement could impede operational effectiveness.

In 2008 the autistic boy, known only as ZH, was on a school trip. He was aged 16 at the time, and as a result of his condition can react adversely if touched by someone he does not know.

While on the trip ZH became fixated by a swimming pool and stood close to the edge of it. His carers informed the pool staff that this was constant with his behaviour and he had to be given time to leave of his own accord.

The pool manager called police officers who tried to take hold of ZH. In panic he jumped into chest deep water. According to witnesses, he was not in trouble at that point but appeared to be enjoying himself.

Police officers forcibly removed him from the pool and put him in arm and leg restraints and locked him in the cage compartment of a police van.

Last year Central London County Court heard that ZH had since suffered post traumatic stress disorder.

Sir Robert Nelson, presiding judge said: “What was needed from the police on their arrival was a calm assessment of the situation so as to ensure that they were as fully informed as the circumstances permitted before taking action.

“They were not summonsed to deal with a crime but with a disabled young man trying to get into a swimming pool.”

He awarded ZH nearly £30,000 in damages.

Bhatt Murphy, ZH’s father, criticised the police for launching an appeal against the judgement.

In a statement he said: “The thousands of pounds of public money spent by [Metropolitan Police] Commissioner Hogan-Howe defending the indefensible would be much better spent requiring his officers to treat people with disabilities humanely.”

A spokesman for the police said: “The issues raised in this case are very important. The Metropolitan Police Service believe that the county court judgement would impact on future operational effectiveness and are therefore appealing the decision.”

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