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Volunteer panel publish review into Bedminster bus incident

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A SPECIAL case review by an independent panel, into the arrest of a young mum on a bus in Bedminster, Bristol, has been published on the two year anniversary of the incident.

The report, by the Independent Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel (ISOPP) for the Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), gives a detailed review of the police incident which took place on December 16th 2020.

During the incident, a woman got on a bus in East Street with her toddler and paid the bus fare, but a dispute followed with the driver that led to the police being called by the bus company.

Two officers attended in an attempt to resolve the situation. However, the incident ended in what the report states is a use of force against the woman that “Appears to be disproportionate” including the use of PAVA spray, restraint and arrest.

The panel’s report found overall the officers’ actions:

  • Appear to be disproportionate to the objective of the mother and child leaving the bus
  • Do not display the expected level of patience and de-escalation.
  • Do not display cultural awareness of the impact of their behaviour on this black woman (or bystanders)
  • Do not display a risk analysis in considering how to achieve the objective of the mother and child leaving the bus

You can read the full report, which was shared with Avon and Somerset Police, here.

Following the incident, learning processes were undertaken with the officers and their Professional Standards Department in Avon and Somerset Police.  

“’Cases like this demonstrate just how important it is to have public scrutiny of how the Police use their powers. 

“Our Scrutiny Panel offers an independent, local, lay person’s view of how the police use their powers.  Over the last five and a half years, we have scrutinised 893 cases and the Bedminster Bus Incident is only the second case to warrant a special report.

“We are pleased that the police have always been open and transparent in their discussions with us.  In this case, they have, without delay, taken steps to act on the identified ‘Learnings’ and to continue to develop their ambitions of inclusion, legitimacy and enhancing public confidence in them.”

David Woodward, Chairman of the ISOPP

The ISOPP is a panel made up of local people, from different backgrounds, who volunteer to look at police records and body worn camera footage of real cases of use of police powers such as Stop Search or Taser. The panel then gives feedback to the police service on the way they use these powers and how they can improve the service.

The Panel meet quarterly and selects themes for police case scrutiny.

The ISOPP was created in June 2017 as part of the recommendations following an incident where a Taser was used by officers on a man in Bristol in a case of mistaken identity.

The OPCC is currently recruiting for new members of the ISOPP, and other panels and roles, to help the Police and Crime Commissioner to monitor and hold the Chief Constable to account for the police service provided to local communities.

“My role as a PCC is scrutinise and monitor the Chief Constable on how the police serve all of our communities.

“Our panels, made up of independent volunteers from within those communities, play a crucial role supporting that scrutiny, ensuring it is transparent and the police service is accountable to the public it serves.

“We want people from all walks of life to come and join us as volunteers on these panels, and in other roles, so that we are representative of all the communities we serve.

“If you are passionate about empowering your community and want to help us constructively challenge and change policing for the better then please visit our website and apply.”  

PCC Mark Shelford