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Police sergeant sacked for ‘shouting, swearing and threatening’ Polish man in custody and striking him with baton

PS Wyss queried whether the man’s behaviour “was a f***ing pastime from Poland or Lithuania

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A Cambridgeshire police officer who used excessive force on a man in custody, used discriminatory language and treated the man less favourably due to his ethnicity, has been dismissed for gross misconduct following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation. Police Sergeant (PS) Gregory Wyss was yesterday (Friday) dismissed without notice and will be placed on the police barred list following a disciplinary hearing, led by an independent legally qualified chair.

“Our investigation began in February 2021 after the force referred a complaint it received from the man relating to the force used on him by the officer,” said a spokesperson for the IOPC.

“We established that on 2 January 2021, a Polish man was arrested by Cambridgeshire officers and was taken to the custody suite at Thorpe Wood Police Station in Peterborough.

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“The man was asked to provide his fingerprints, but he was uncooperative and refused to provide his fingerprint samples.”

CCTV from the custody suite and body worn video footage shows that PS Wyss then entered the room, shouting, swearing, and making threats at the man.

The IOPC says PS Wyss used force on the man including slapping the back of his head and striking him in the back, as he told the man to stop resisting.

During the struggle, the man’s knee struck another officer in the groin. He was taken to the floor and told to put his hands behind his back so that he could be handcuffed, and PS Wyss struck him in the back with a baton when he did not comply.

While the man was on the ground PS Wyss then sprayed PAVA into the man’s eyes at very close range.

He was handcuffed by the officers and further arrested for assaulting a police officer. PS Wyss and other officers attempted to take the man’s fingerprints by force, and he was then taken into a cell.

After the man – who is not a native English speaker and had a noticeable accent – was moved into a cell, PS Wyss queried whether the man’s behaviour “was a f***ing pastime from Poland or Lithuania or wherever he is from.”

No charges were brought against the man for assaulting a police officer.

“As part of our investigation we interviewed PS Wyss, obtained statements from the other officers who were present, reviewed body worn video footage and CCTV footage from the custody suite as well as seizing items that were used by PS Wyss,” said the IOPC spokesperson.

“Following the conclusion of our investigation in June 2021, we referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who authorised charges of racially aggravated assault by beating and assault by beating, along with a third charge of administering a poison or noxious thing.”

In July 2022, PS Wyss was found not guilty of the assault charges at Cambridge Crown Court.

The third charge was dropped by the prosecution ahead of the trial.

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The spokesperson said: “The force also agreed with our decision that PS Wyss should face a gross misconduct hearing for allegedly breaching the police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force; authority, respect, and courtesy; and equality and diversity – which related to his use of discriminatory language and for treating the man less favourably at least in part because he was Eastern European.

“On Friday the panel found that all allegations against PS Wyss were proven, and his actions amounted to gross misconduct.”

IOPC regional director, Charmaine Arbouin said: “Police officers are permitted to use force in certain situations, however any force used must be reasonable and proportionate.

“The evidence clearly showed that PS Wyss’ use of force was excessive, and his actions were unacceptable. His use of discriminatory language was completely unacceptable, and he showed a complete lack of respect to the man.

“It’s behaviour like this which damages the public’s trust and confidence in police officers.

“This is a good example of the disciplinary process being effective in rooting out poor officer behaviour. As a result of the panel’s finding, the officer has been held accountable and will be barred from policing.”

A statement from Cambridgeshire police confirmed Sgt Wyss, who was based at Thorpe Wood Police Station, was found to have breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour amounting to gross misconduct.

The six-day hearing concluded on Friday at the Holiday Inn Cambridge in Impington.

Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “The public rightly expects the highest standards of Cambridgeshire’s officers, but the actions of Sergeant Wyss have fallen short of this mark.

“While the use of force is often an unavoidable aspect of policing, it must be appropriate and proportionate to the circumstances and officers are rightly scrutinised for their actions. The use of excessive force undermines the trust we strive to build within our community.

 

“There is also zero tolerance for racism in Cambridgeshire. Any racist behaviour not only loses the trust and respect of our communities, but damages the reputation of the force, all those that work within it and causes great harm to policing in general.

“We will continue to ensure those whose actions erode the trust of the public, a trust that the vast majority of officers strive to maintain, no longer serve with Cambridgeshire Constabulary.”

Wyss had been a police officer for more than 20 years.

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