Greater Manchester Police officer dismissed over use of CS spray during arrest

Published: 04 Aug 2023

A Greater Manchester Police officer found to have used excessive force during the arrest of a man in pub in Blackley has been dismissed without notice.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld a review of GMP’s handling of a complaint regarding the officer’s actions during the incident on 24 July 2020.

Several people were ordered to leave Ye Golden Lion, on Market Street, by officers attending reports of a fight at the premises involving a large number of people. One of the attending officers used CS spray during the arrest of a Black man at the scene.

The force’s investigation into the complaint found PC Rosalind Holt had a case to answer for gross misconduct in respect of her honesty and integrity, and discreditable conduct. However, the complainant requested a review of the decision the officer had no case to answer in relation to her use of force, and equality and diversity.

Our role was to determine whether the outcome of GMP’s handling of the complaint was reasonable and proportionate. We did not reinvestigate the complaint.

Having reviewed the investigation report, and the relevant evidence, including footage of the incident, we considered there was sufficient evidence that an independently-chaired panel could find PC Holt’s use of force to be disproportionate in the circumstances.

Her initial justification for using an incapacitant spray – which was that the man had attempted to attack her with a glass – was not supported by the video footage. The complainant faced no charges in relation to his arrest.

We also considered her treatment of the man, who was the only Black man present and the only person subjected to the use of force, as well as some of the language she used in relation to him following the incident, could indicate that he was treated less favourably due to his race. We determined the panel should also consider whether the officer had breached the standards of professional behaviour in relation to equality and diversity.

We notified GMP and the complainant of our decision to uphold the review and GMP arranged a misconduct hearing, incorporating the additional use of force and equality and diversity case to answer findings, which concluded on Friday (28 July).

The panel found gross misconduct proven in respect of PC Holt’s use of force; honesty and integrity; and discreditable conduct. The panel found the case not proven in respect of equality and diversity. As a result, she was dismissed without notice.

IOPC Head of National Operations Sunny Bhalla said: “Police officers are entrusted with significant powers and must be able to justify their use in order to maintain public confidence.

“While PC Holt was faced with a challenging and potentially hostile situation that night, her actions needlessly escalated matters when evidence suggested the complainant was neither resisting nor acting aggressively towards her.

“In light of the circumstances, where there was concern over whether discrimination was a factor in the disproportionate use of force, it was right for the evidence to be tested in a public hearing. While the panel was satisfied in this case that the complainant was not treated unfavourably due to his race, PC Holt’s excessive use of force, and misleading statements when trying to justify her actions, fell far below the standards expected of a police officer.”

  • Greater Manchester Police
  • Use of force and armed policing
  • Race discrimination