West Midlands Police officer convicted of assaulting two people during lockdown patrols

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A police officer has been found guilty of assaulting two members of the public on consecutive days during the first Covid lockdown - including an attack on a 15-year-old boy.

PC Declan Jones committed both offences while on duty in Birmingham, starting with an assault on a man in Aston on April last year.

The 30-year-old West Midlands Police officer went on to kick and punch a 15-year-old he wrongly accused of possessing drugs in the Newtown area of the city on the following day. PC Jones had denied three counts of common assault.

Reaching verdicts on Monday after a week-long trial at Coventry Magistrates' Court in June, District Judge Shamim Qureshi cleared Jones of assaulting a third complainant who was punched in the face on April 23, when the officer was heard to say he did not believe in the virus.

The judge said the third incident had seen the officer use "proportionate" force as colleagues struggled to detain a man wearing a stab-proof vest in Handsworth.

Birmingham-based PC Declan Jones (left) arriving at Coventry Magistrates' Court in November. Credit: PA

CCTV footage of the attack on the 15-year-old was played to the court by prosecutors, who alleged Jones was annoyed the youth had "broken free" and was running off.

Jones told the court it was his "honest belief" the teenager had made a downward movement with one of his hands, causing him to fear for his safety.

Explaining the reason for his findings, District Judge Qureshi, told Jones the force used against the 15-year-old victim after he "stood in a surrender pose" was totally unnecessary.

The judge also described videos of the incidents, in which officers were shown not wearing masks, as "disastrous" for police-public relations and "embarrassing" to watch.

The judge told Jones: "It is noteworthy that in all three incidents, not a single officer wears a mask or face-covering despite being issued with it by West Midlands Police."

In a video about the third incident, the judge said, PC Jones was "heard saying he does not believe in the virus" when he spoke with a witness.

Describing the attack on the 15-year-old, Judge Qureshi said Jones had initially bent back the youth's fingers.

The judge added: "He said it was not safe to walk the streets of Handsworth and neighbouring areas.

"After hearing Pc Jones's repeated justification of intelligence and high crime area for all his actions, I consider that Pc Jones has a paranoia that everyone in a high crime area has concealed weapons all over their body and I query whether he was suited to this type of work in those areas."

Celia Thorpe of the CPS said: "I do not underestimate the difficult, demanding and sometimes dangerous role of being a police officer patrolling our streets; however, in common with all members of society, police officers are accountable for their actions and are not above the law."

He will be sentenced on 10 September and will face a misconduct hearing chaired by the Chief Constable. Credit: West Midlands Police

Criminal charges were brought following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into allegations of excessive use of force.

The inquiry followed a voluntary referral from West Midlands Police on April 30. Jones was bailed for sentence on September 10.

Confirming that Jones will now face a misconduct hearing chaired by the West Midlands' Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said: "Pc Jones' use of force was totally inappropriate and it's right that he has been held accountable by the court today."

In a statement, West Midlands Police told us it would be reviewing the evidence and judge's comments from yesterday's court case, alongside any findings by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, to assess the need to take any further action. 

It said the officer's use of force was totally inappropriate and his actions not representative of West Midlands Police. 

"We are clear that living or being in a high crime area is not the sole justification for stop and search, neither is being a Black man."

"We're doing lots of work around disproportionality in stop and search. We are absolutely committed to getting this right and we continue to review our practices and learn from feedback from our communities."

"We owe it to our communities to treat everyone fairly, we largely get this right but we must continue to reflect and improve on this."