Police rule out action over arrest death

NO DISCIPLINARY action is to be taken against six police officers involved in the arrest of a black man who an inquest jury decided was unlawfully killed, it was announced last night.

The Police Complaints Authority said it agreed with the decision of Jack Ord, Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland, that the officers involved in the arrest of Oliver Pryce in Middlesbrough in 1990 should not be disciplined.

The legal lobby group Inquest, which has been acting on behalf of Mr Pryce's family, said last night that a 'number of avenues' in the case were still being explored. It is believed that the family is considering the question of a private prosecution; a civil action is already being pursued.

Mr Pryce, 30, from Wolverhampton, a former British karate international who suffered from psychiatric problems, was arrested after jumping in front of an ambulance. He died from asphyxiation in the back of a police van.

An inquest jury last year returned a verdict that he had been unlawfully killed after hearing how the six officers bundled him into the van and one of them held him in a headlock.

An investigation supervised by the Police Complaints Authority led to an initial decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that the officers would not be prosecuted. The case was considered again after the inquest and the CPS took counsel's advice. It re-affirmed its position last month.

A spokesman for the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) said last night that it had agreed that insufficient evidence existed to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the disciplinary offence of abuse of authority had been committed by police officers.

Police discipline procedures dictate that proceedings have to be brought according to the criminal standard of proof. In cases where the allegations are straightforward and the CPS has not pressed charges, it is difficult to argue that disciplinary offences have occurred. The authority said that at the time of the arrest of Mr Pryce, 'a significant majority of independent witnesses found no cause for complaint in the officers' behaviour'.

The statement added: 'Careful consideration was given to the treatment of Mr Pryce in the back of the van and especially the method of restraint used to contain him during the journey. The officers say that he was struggling violently as he was placed in the van and they feared he would start struggling again during the short journey to the police station. The authority was also unable to find any evidence to support the allegation that the police officers subjected Mr Pryce to racial abuse.

Deborah Coles, of Inquest, said yesterday that Mr Pryce's family was concerned at the inconsistencies between the position of the CPS and the PCA when compared to the decision of the inquest jury, which had considered the matter according to the criminal standard of proof and on the basis of the same evidence.

Yesterday's decision is likely to increase concern at the apparent inability of the system of investigating complaints against the police to bring proceedings. Lawyers have claimed that police have never been prosecuted in any cases where there have been allegations over the death of black people after their arrest.

The use by police of the headlock method of restraint has also caused concern in a number of cases, including that of Clinton McCurbin, who died while being arrested for shoplifting in Wolverhampton in 1987.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam