Former Devon and Cornwall Police officer admitted then denied 'strangling' detainee in hospital

Devon & Cornwall Police Generic  Free to use
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)

A former Devon and Cornwall Police officer has been found culpable of gross misconduct following allegations he 'strangled' a detainee. PC Paul Barratt accepted a caution for common assault by beating on August 3, 2023 after it was alleged that he had assaulted a detainee that he was supervising while in hospital.

The former officer had previously admitted to placing his hand around the throat of the male detainee on June 4, 2023, the panel heard. In a signed, prepared statement given to the investigating officer on July 31, Barratt admitted to the allegations and was offered and accepted a Police Adult Caution.

During the process of the misconduct panel, Barratt claimed the contents of the prepared statement was untrue, that he did not assault the detainee unlawfully and that he had been coerced by those representing him to sign his admission and accept the caution. The hearing findings said he "effectively suggested that he was left with no other choice but to doso, despite the fact that he was effectively admitting to conduct that he not guilty of."

Read more:

As well as evidence from the former officer, the hearing also heard from another officer who was also assisting in detaining the man. The office, identified as PC A, submitted evidence that she saw Barratt "place his hand on the throat of the detainee", and available body worn video footage includes an image showing Barratt place his left hand in the "very close vicinity of the detainee's throat".

PC A also made comments, noted in a transcript of the body camera footage, strongly supporting that she felt Barratt had placed his hand around the detainee's neck. The same transcript records evidence that the detainee also strongly believed this.

Holding an Accelerated Misconduct Hearing on June 19, 2024, Acting Chief Constable Jim Colwell concluded that Barratt would have been dismissed without notice, had he still been serving. Despite Barratt's submission to the hearing, A/CC Colwell concluded that the officers’ actions ‘departed severely’ from the expected standards of behaviour, amounting to gross misconduct.

He said: “The unlawful use of violence by a police officer, either on or off duty, is entirely inconsistent with the expectation clearly held by the public in terms of how an officer should conduct themselves.”

He added: “Assaulting the detainee in such a way as has been proven here, goes against everything the public, and indeed I would expect to occur in such circumstances, and such conduct has quite rightly been highlighted, challenged and fully investigated.”

He resigned from the force in February 2024, while under investigation for gross misconduct. Devon and Cornwall Police said his details have been submitted to the College of Policing Barred List.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thorne said: “We expect all officers and staff to conduct themselves in line with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Behaviour. Former PC Barratt has been found culpable of not aligning with those standards and the only suitable outcome would have been dismissal.

“Ensuring the highest standards and ethics within the Force remains a top priority and the public can be assured that any wrongdoing or unacceptable behaviour such as this will be subject to robust action.”