On Sunday 29 May 2022 PC Lott deployed his captor spray at one of two handcuffed prisoners who were contained within the secure area of a prison van. Both men were drunk. The man that was sprayed was a foreign national who did not appear to understand English. This prisoner was left lying face up, with his arms in handcuffs beneath him. No aftercare was given to him following the deployment of the spray and he was left lying face up. The van doors were then shut leaving both men in a confined area shortly after the spray had been deployed.
Having been subject to a criminal investigation in joint enterprise regarding the above, PC Lott and PC Groves have been found guilty of common assault at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.
I have very carefully read, digested and considered the representations made by your legal representative (PC Lott) and the character references that have been submitted on behalf of both of you. It is clear that you have both previously served the public with a commitment to do a good job. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for that service that you have both given to the public. It is also clear to me that you have continued to work hard in a non front line operational duty whilst under investigation and I credit you for that.
Whilst considering the sanction in this case I am very aware of the criminal appeal process through which you are both going. It is important to note that these accelerated proceedings are based upon the fact of the conviction and not the underlying facts. I feel it pertinent to deal firstly with the circumstances which have been articulated during this hearing around your appeal against your criminal conviction. It is my role to consider the public interest factor in this case which includes the future confidence of the public, the ability to be able to maintain good order and discipline and the reputational harm to the police service. The purpose of misconduct proceedings is not to punish but to protect the public, maintain public confidence of the integrity of the public and uphold proper standards of behaviour.
In your case, this is set against potential detriment to you should you later be acquitted in the criminal court on appeal as this hearing is based solely upon the fact of the conviction. It is not in the public interest to create unfairness which is incapable of being remedied. However, in your case you are not without remedy because the basis for the finding under regulation 49 would fall away and due process would then follow which could then allow an appeal and the matter remitted for re-hearing. Notwithstanding your appeal process I return to my role to determine the sanction against the facts that I have before me.
Never in the history of policing has the premise of policing by consent and public confidence been more prominent than it is today. You have been convicted in a criminal court of assault. The public rightly expects that officers uphold the law and perform their duties with the highest professional standards. It is entirely unacceptable for police officers who enforce the law to break the law themselves. Therefore, the sanction in this case is dismissal without notice.
I thank you once again for the service that you have given to victims, witnesses, your colleagues, and the wider community.