However, RLC is disappointed that the LECC found the child’s arrest was lawful, and the use of force not excessive, despite the child sustaining serious head injuries.
We are disappointed that the officer who injured the child has not been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The LECC inquiry, called Operation Mantus, was launched in response to a complaint by RLC on behalf of a 14-year-old First Nations child known as YPM1 after he was tackled to the ground by a plain clothes police officer and arrested in September 2022.
During his arrest, he sustained serious and horrific head injuries that required an overnight stay in hospital.
Before emergency services treated him at the scene, he was forcibly walked and handcuffed by police despite having a visible and bloody head injury.
The police involved did not wear body-worn video (BWV).
The LECC investigation focused on his initial apprehension and other issues arising from his detention in custody after the arrest, as well as systemic problems highlighted by the case.
In its findings the LECC was critical of the failure to use BWV by police officers and found that the officers should have considered removing the handcuffs, once YPM1’s identity had been established and the situation contained.
The LECC made 19 recommendations including:
The BWV Standard Operating Procedures should be amended to make clear that they apply to police conducting operational duties in plain clothes.
NSW Police Force training and ongoing education materials with respect to use of force should include specific content and guidance on handcuffing of persons, and in particular children and young persons, with the need for ongoing assessment as to whether it is appropriate to leave the person handcuffed after arrest.
NSW Police Force have regard to the ‘Use of Force Overview’ of the New Zealand Police Force in expanding its Use of Force Manual to provide more detailed guidance concerning possible use of force on vulnerable persons.
A review of NSW Police Force policies and procedures be undertaken to emphasise the need for police officers to obtain prompt medical attention for people who have sustained injuries following the use of force by police officers.
RLC welcomes these findings.
More robust reforms are needed, however, to adequately deal with the systemic issues including the use of force.
RLC calls on the Police Minister and Police Commissioner to immediately cease the use of handcuffs on injured children.
In the interest of justice and the protection of children, the officer who injured YPM1 should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
RLC Police Accountability Lawyer Sam Lee said she was disappointed the LECC found that the arrest was lawful and that the force used was not excessive.
"My client, a child of slight frame, was tackled to the ground by a physically robust adult male police officer. As a result, he sustained a horrific head injury."
“Shockingly, NSW police have no procedures in place that guide the use of force against children."
“We also know that NSW police use force against First Nations people at vastly disproportionate rates."
“We've obtained records that show First Nations people were involved in about 45 per cent of the use of force incidents."
“The NSW police have a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution," she said.
“The Police Commissioner must address the use of force against First Nations people and children at all levels of the police force."
"We urgently need a comprehensive and public inquiry into the use of force by police," she said.