'Knee on neck' techniques are not a part of Met police training, says Dame Cressida Dick

22 July 2020, 09:34

By Maddie Goodfellow

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has said that the "knee on neck" technique that appears to have been used in a video of a man being restrained by two officers in Islington is "not taught in police training".

When answering questions from callers on LBC, Dame Cressida was questioned over whether the use of so-called "knee on neck" restraint techniques are approved for use in the Met Police force.

The question referred to an incident on 17 July in which a video was published to social media that appeared to show a Met police officer kneeling on a black man's neck.

Officers were called to a fight in Isledon Road, Islington, north London, and arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of affray and possession of an offensive weapon, the Met said.

One officer in the video has since been suspended and the other has been removed from their operational duties.

The incident has also been passed on to the independent police watchdog for investigation.

It followings the infamous arrest and death of George Floyd in the US, who died while a police officer - Derek Chauvin - knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes as Mr Floyd shouted: "I can't breathe."

Dame Cressida told LBC: "The techniques you saw are not taught in police training. We never use "the chokehold"or "knee on neck" techniques.

"The head is a very vulnerable part of the body, as are the neck and airways.

"Officers are always taught to protect people's heads and get anyone sitting up as soon as possible to prevent restriction of the airways."

Dame Cressida said that body camera footage of the incident has not yet been released due to the ongoing investigation.

At the start of the two minutes and 20-second clip, one of the officers appeared to be kneeling on the suspect's neck and has his hand on his head.

The struggling man on the ground can be heard shouting "Get off me... get off my neck, I haven't done anything wrong, get off my neck."

One of the police officers can then be heard asking him "Are you going to behave yourself?" before telling him to "stay down."

He then stands up and asks onlookers who are filming the incident to "move back," while another clip shows more police officers arriving at the scene.

Dame Cressida Dick was speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC
Dame Cressida Dick was speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC. Picture: LBC

Dame Cressida continued: "This is one of the frustrations for me and my officers in the modern age, people will now more often than not be filming police officers and we now have body cameras on all front line officers as well.

"There is a lot of material out there that can show what happens in any one incident, and this is excellent, my officers do not shy away from the scrutiny.

"But it is inappropriate to release material when it is still under investigation."

When questioned over her opinion on the video, she said: "Having viewed the material, my professional standards commander decided that it was appropriate for the IOPC to review the material and decide whether there is any misconduct."

However, Dame Cressida also pointed out the "fluidity" of physical incidents and that for this reason they "should be reviewed".

When questioned over why police body camera footage of the incident had not been released, Dame Cressida said: "I'd love it if we could, but it is inappropriate.

"I cannot just put evidence out. We would love to be able to put out material earlier. However, there are times, such as when something is under active investigation, where this is not appropriate.

"There is also a second hazard, which is privacy law and people's right to privacy."

Her comments echo those of Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House, who said at the time of the incident that the footage is "deeply disturbing" and said it was of "great concern" to see techniques used that are "not taught in police training."

Sir Steve said: "The video footage that I have seen today and is circulating on social media is extremely disturbing. I understand that many viewing the footage will share my concern.

"The man involved was arrested, taken to a police station and has now been seen by a police doctor

"Some of the techniques used cause me great concern - they are not taught in police training.

"We have quickly assessed the incident, including the body-worn video footage from the officers and their statements and justification for their use of force. As a result, we have referred the matter to the IOPC.

"One officer has been suspended and another officer has been removed from operational duty, but not suspended at this time. This decision will be kept under review.

"We will co-operate fully with the IOPC investigation."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also said at the time: "I'm deeply concerned about this distressing incident and we have raised this with senior officers at the Met Police as a matter of urgency.

"I welcome the fact the incident has been reviewed quickly by the Met and it's right that they have referred it to the IOPC.

"I look forward to a swift and thorough independent investigation, with all decisions made public.

"It's crucial our police service continues to earn the trust of the communities it serves."