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Actions Against the Police: Met to appeal over autism damages ruling

The father of an autistic boy who was restrained by the Metropolitan Police after he jumped  into a swimming pool, has criticised the force for appealing a ruling against them.

Last year a judge said that Met officers had falsely imprisoned and discriminated against the autistic boy, known as ZH.

ZH was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints and placed in the back of a police van.

The Metropolitan Police are to appeal against the judgement, stating that it could affect operational effectiveness.

In 2008, ZH was 16 and on a school trip to Acton Baths in West London. He has severe autism, epilepsy and the mental age of a 5 year old. He can act adversely if approached or touched by someone that he does not know.

During the trip, he became fixated by the water. He approached it and stayed by the pool side for around half an hour. His carers told the pool staff that this behaviour was consistent with his condition and that he needed to be given the time to move way of his own accord.

However, police officers called by when the pool manager arrived, and they tried to take hold of ZH. With that, he jumped into the pool. The water was chest deep, and witnesses said that he was not in trouble and bobbed up and down with excitement.

When the police tried to forcible get him out of the water, he became agitated and distressed.

He was soaking wet, and the police restrained him with two pairs of handcuffs and leg restraints before locking him in the cage compartment of a police van.

The Central London County Court heard that this experience exacerbated ZH’s epilepsy and he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Swain & Co.’s actions against the police solicitors say that in a significant ruling against the Metropolitan police, the Judge, Sir Robert Nelson, found that the force had subjected ZH to inhuman or degrading treatment and unlawful discrimination due to his disability. The boy was awarded almost £30,000 in damages.

The judge went on to say that what was needed at the time was the police to assess the situation calmly and ensure that they had all the relevant information before taking action.

They had not been called to deal with a crime, but to attend to a disabled young man that was trying to get into a swimming pool.

ZH’s father has criticised the Metropolitan police for refusing to accept the ruling against them.


If you think you or a loved one has been a victim of unlawful restraint or false imprisonment, please do not hesitate in contacting us free on 0800 0351 999.

We have a specialist team of experts who carry out actions against the police, prison officers and security staff, to help and advise you on bringing a claim. We also offer free initial consultations to discuss your potential case.

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