Police Officer’s Gross Misconduct Notice
A Cleveland Police dog handler has been given a gross misconduct notice following an investigation into the death of 73-year-old Irene Collins, who was killed by a police dog in July this year.
The Independent Police Complaints (IPCC) investigation into the incident concluded that the officer had failed to control the dog.
The German shepherd attacked Mrs Collins in her home on Penrith Road, Middlesbrough, during a search for a drug suspect on her property. Her health was said to be poor at the time of the incident, and she died four days later in James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.
The police dog was initially withdrawn from any future operations, before being destroyed in September.
The dog handler was reported to be distressed following the attack, and was interviewed under police caution for failing to control a dog. He was issued with a gross misconduct notice on the 12th December.
Evidence such as radio communication, aerial footage and written communications were analysed during the investigation. It has been reported that the Health and Safety Executive are carrying out a separate investigation, with cooperation from Cleveland Police.
The incident came after a BBC investigation in February revealed that police forces across the UK had paid £120,000 in compensation for dog attacks between 2011 and 2013.
The BBC found that at least 150 innocent bystanders had been attacked by police dogs in three years. Many of the incidents reported by the BBC had occurred during similar circumstances to that above. A 10-year old boy in the West Midlands for example, was attacked in his Grandmother’s garden, and a 38-year-old woman in Sheffield was attacked whilst putting out her washing, both whilst their properties were being searched for a suspect.
Young children, joggers, and a photographer were also amongst those who had received compensation from the police after an attack.
The Police stated at the time that their dogs are trained to a high standard and are continually assessed, and that the attacks that were reported were a very small proportion of many successful operations across the country.
Anthony McCarthy, Director Solicitor at Macks, says,” Police dogs are a vital part of crime detection and prevention but they need to be properly controlled if serious injury to innocent members of the public is to be avoided.”