West Mercia Police officer given final written warning for excessive force on Dalian Atkinson

Published: 17 Mar 2023

A West Mercia Police officer has been given a final written warning after gross misconduct was found proven following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

At a gross misconduct hearing, arranged and held by West Mercia Police which ended today (Friday), Police Constable Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith was alleged to have used excessive force through a number of baton strikes on Dalian Atkinson in Telford in August 2016. The strikes were made on Mr Atkinson’s buttocks and legs when he was lying on the ground after having been kicked to the head and Tasered by another officer.

We examined whether PC Bettley-Smith’s baton strikes in the circumstances were proportionate, reasonable and necessary. We also looked at whether her actions and decisions were in accordance with national and force policies and training. At the end of our investigation in 2018, we decided that PC Bettley-Smith should face a gross misconduct hearing over her use of force.

The police disciplinary panel, led by an independent, legally qualified Chair, has now decided she breached police professional standards and that she should be given a final written warning.

IOPC Regional Director, Derrick Campbell, said:

“As part of our detailed investigation into the tragic events of 15 August 2016 we carefully examined the nature and level of force used by PC Bettley-Smith and whether it was in line with national policies and guidelines. Police officers do difficult jobs in sometimes difficult situations. Officers are given extraordinary powers to use force, and the way they use force must be reasonable and proportionate.

“We analysed the sequence of baton strikes by PC Bettley-Smith to Mr Atkinson’s body after he had been Tasered. In our view, several of the officer’s repeated strikes at a time when Mr Atkinson was already lying on the ground were excessive. The police disciplinary panel has now decided the officer’s actions did breach professional standards for use of force and has imposed its sanction.

“I would again offer my sympathies to Dalian Atkinson’s family who have had to wait patiently for all the criminal and disciplinary proceedings to fully take their course.”

PC Bettley-Smith was acquitted of assault causing actual bodily harm after a retrial at Birmingham Crown Court in September 2022.

  • West Mercia Police
  • Use of force and armed policing