In a shocking development, PC Jacob Swallow, a West Yorkshire Police officer based in the Bradford district, has been found guilty of assaulting a handcuffed male while on duty. The 25-year-old officer was convicted of one charge of common assault following a trial and has received a sentence of 22 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
The verdict was delivered today at York Magistrates Court, accompanied by a set of strict conditions for PC Swallow. Along with the suspended sentence, he has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, pay £200 in compensation to the victim, and contribute £940 towards the associated legal costs.
This suspended sentence comes with a clear message: any violation of the imposed conditions or the commission of a new offence during the probation period will result in PC Swallow serving the original custodial term, in addition to any subsequent sentence.
The charge against PC Swallow stems from an incident that occurred on 15 June 2022 in Keighley. Police had responded to a disturbance call, and a 17-year-old male was subsequently handcuffed and placed in the rear cage of a police van. The situation escalated when the restrained individual began banging his head against the cage door. Two officers opened the van door to subdue him, during which he bit one of the officers. Following the re-closure of the cage doors, the male persisted in banging his head. It was at this point that PC Swallow opened the van door and delivered a single punch to the male’s face, causing his head to recoil and strike the back of the cage, resulting in a nosebleed.
Detective Chief Superintendent Nicola Bryar, the Head of West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Directorate, emphasised the importance of using force only when reasonable, necessary, and proportionate. While acknowledging that the male was behaving aggressively towards both himself and other officers, she highlighted that it did not justify PC Swallow’s actions, as the court recognised them to be unlawful.
The incident was captured on the officer’s body-worn video, which played a crucial role in securing PC Swallow’s conviction. This serves as a reminder that such footage acts as an “independent witness” during interactions between police officers and the public. The West Yorkshire Police has mandated that all frontline officers and staff activate their body-worn cameras when exercising their policing powers. This measure ensures transparency and accountability and assures the public that such evidence will be reviewed and acted upon, as demonstrated in this case.
PC Swallow has been suspended from duty pending the conclusion of misconduct proceedings. With the court case now concluded, the West Yorkshire Police will proceed with addressing the officer’s misconduct internally.
This incident serves as a stark reminder that the public expects and deserves responsible use of force by police officers, while reiterating the importance of body-worn cameras in maintaining transparency and trust between the police and the community they serve.