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Lancashire PC sacked for gross misconduct and assault

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3:35pm 14th November 2016

A Lancashire police officer's been dismissed with immediate effect after being found guilty of assault.

PC Mark Edwards attacked a member of the public he'd arrested in April 2015, by punching him in the face three or four times.

He was found guilty in court after a trial, appealed the conviction, but was found guilty again by a second court room.

Edwards was then told he would face a public hearing into the misconduct that could see him fired.

In April 2015, Edwards and his colleague spotted a man apparently urinating in public, who refused to leave the scene.

Edwards used acceptable force to arrest the man and placed him - handcuffed - in the rear of the police vehicle.

He then asked the man for his details, and after refusing to do so, Edwards punched the man in the face three or four times.

At today's meeting, chair Chief Constable Steve Finnigan had to decide if Edwards had breached standards of professional behaviour and if he would be found guilty of gross misconduct.

Eliot Gold from the appropriate authority stated that they had to consider standards of professional behaviour, and whether they had been breached by Edwards.

He said;

"This is gross misconduct. The victim was restrained in a police vehicle, and Edwards' account has been dismissed twice by two separate courts.

Of course, today's result will be based on the matter of judgement from Chief Constable Finnigan".

Mark Edwards was not in attendance of the hearing, after being told by the police federation that it would be best for him to stay away.

A written statement from Edwards was to be read out by Detective Sergeant Simon Challenger.

In it, Edwards stated that he had "served the people of Lancashire proudly for more than a decade, and wish every success in the future".

He always said that he was "always proud to wear the uniform and always sought to add value to the force".

He ended the statement saying;

"I always believed justice would prevail, but I could never admit to something I've never done. I have nothing left but my dignity".

He also stated he'd used acceptable force on the victim earlier that night when he was arresting the man - but denied assaulting him whilst in the police car.

In his findings, Chief Constable Finnigan announced that there was "no doubt whatsoever that gross misconduct in the case of Edwards was correct".

He also said there was "no threat to Edwards in the attack, and there was no justification of the assault on a restrained member of the public".

Finnigan added that police officers have to exercise authority and control over the public, and should expect to live by more exacting standards than normal people.

He stated that Edwards' "conduct fell well below the standards expected at Lancashire Constabulary, and that he could have potentially damaged their reputation, as well as the trust and confidence of the public".

The appropriate authority added that Edwards had enjoyed a "positive and fulfilling career", spanning more than a decade in Lancashire.

But they also said that Edwards "ought to have known better and should have known better and this point in his career" - saying that Edwards should be dismissed.

Finnigan said that despite Edwards' careers and handful of "awards, commendations and testimonials", the acts from that night in April 2015 had "no explanation or rationale, and was without explanation or justification".

He said he had to "uphold the high standards of the police force" as they have a "fundamental duty to protect the public".

They had no choice but to dismiss Edwards with immediate effects, due to the findings of the hearing.

This was to "preserve the public confidence in the police force and this organisation as a whole".

Edwards had to serve 300 hours of unpaid community service, as well as paying costs nearing £2,000.

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