The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into a complaint that Sussex Police restrained an 11-year-old girl with Smith-Magenis Syndrome on several occasions.
The girl’s mother has made the complaint about how the girl appeared to have been restrained with handcuffs and leg restraints on 5 occasions by Sussex Police officers between February 2 and March 2 2012 in Horsham and the surrounding area. On all but one of these occasions she was arrested and taken to police stations, and twice she was held overnight.
The complaint about the police management of the incidents, the methods of restraint used on her daughter and the decisions to hold her in police station cells overnight was made to the IPCC in July 2012.
Sussex Police then referred the matter to the IPCC on December 12, 2012 and an independent investigation commenced.
IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said: “The IPCC investigation is examining the nature and circumstances of the officers' interaction with the girl on five separate occasions in February and March 2012 to determine whether the degree of force and method of restraint used by officers was appropriate and in accordance with the law, the officers' training and force policy and procedure.
“The investigation is also looking at the appropriateness of the decision to place the girl in police cells on four occasions and to refer her to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging on one occasion.
“These are very serious complaints about the treatment of an 11-year-old girl suffering from Smith-Magenis Syndrome and I will ensure that they are investigated thoroughly.”
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We take our responsibility for any use of force very seriously particularly when it involves young people or those who are disabled.
“Given the unusual circumstances of the case and that is it being independently investigated we cannot go into full detail until the conclusion of the investigation. We welcome the IPCC's scrutiny and we fully support its investigation.”
Smith-Magenis Syndrome is a genetic disability due to a microdeletion or abnormality of chromosome 17. The major features of the condition include mild to moderate intellectual disability, delayed speech and language skills, distinctive facial features, sleep disturbances, and behavioural problems, according to the Smith-Magenis Syndrome Foundation UK.