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The underlying facts

  1. The Inquiry saw handheld camera footage of a briefing led by Detention Custody Manager (DCM) Stewart Povey-Meier on 5 June 2017.1 The time was approximately 17:10.2 Mr Povey-Meier told the assembled officers and Healthcare staff that D390 was due to be transferred to Harmondsworth immigration removal centre and had indicated that he would refuse to go. Mr Povey-Meier explained to the assembled staff that he had contacted the Duty Director, Mr Stephen Skitt. Mr Povey-Meier said that the assembled officers would form two teams, the first of which would focus on escorting D390 to the waiting escort staff. This team was to be composed of Detention Custody Officer (DCO) Ben Shadbolt, DCO Ryan Bromley and DCO Sean Sayers, with DCO Callum Tulley supporting them. Mr Povey-Meier explained that D390 would be asked to walk to the escort staff, and if he did not, the team was to take control of him and take him downstairs. The second team was to escort D390’s cell mate, D1851, to a safe area on A Wing. This team was to be composed of DCO Darren Bulled, DCO Neil Timms and DCM Shane Farrell. In addition, DCM Nick London was to operate the handheld camera, and Ms Carole Reed, a Staff Nurse, and Ms Eavan Owens, a healthcare assistant, were also to attend.
  2. The Inquiry saw the handheld camera footage of the two teams of officers entering the cell.3 The footage, which lasts approximately 12 minutes 30 seconds, begins with Mr Povey-Meier looking through the viewing panel into the cell shared by D390 and D1851. A riot shield, held by someone off camera, is visible at the edge of the frame.

Figure 20: Mr Povey-Meier looking through the viewing panel

  1. Mr Povey-Meier then looked downwards and stepped back slightly. The camera did not follow his line of sight to the floor. An officer could be heard asking “Has he flooded the floor?” before Mr Povey-Meier looked back into the cell and called D390’s name once. No response was audible from D390. After looking into the cell a second time, Mr Povey-Meier told the other officers that a kettle was being boiled inside the cell. Mr London could be heard asking, “Do you want to turn the electricity off?” Mr Povey-Meier did not reply but asked D1851 to come to the door and then, talking to him through the crack along the hinged edge of the door, asked him to come out of the cell with the officers so that he could talk to D390.
  2. D1851’s response is only partially audible on the footage. He can be heard speaking in a calm voice and saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s going on [inaudible] sorry.” The remainder of his response to Mr Povey-Meier is inaudible on the footage. Mr Povey-Meier responded, “okay”. Mr London asked Mr Povey-Meier, “Is he refusing to come out?” Mr Povey-Meier did not specifically answer this question but nodded slightly and told the officers that D1851 was on the right-hand bed and that D390 was standing towards the back of the cell near the kettle. Mr London warned the officers twice: “Watch out for that kettle.” Mr Povey-Meier then unlocked and opened the cell door and moved swiftly out of the way. Six officers immediately entered the cell, which was in darkness. All the officers were in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and two of them were carrying riot shields.
  3. Within two seconds of the door being opened, Mr Shadbolt, Mr Sayers and Mr Bromley moved rapidly towards D390 and pushed him onto his bed using a shield. None of the officers spoke to D390 before force was used against him. Meanwhile, D390 said, “I’m here, I’m here, what happened? I’m packing my stuff?”. Mr Timms, Mr Bulled and Mr Farrell followed behind, at a slightly slower pace, and surrounded D1851’s bed, preventing him from moving from it. D1851 was sitting in the bed, holding his hands up. Mr Timms held his shield close to D1851 but there is not a clear enough view of the position of the shield to establish whether it made direct contact with him. D1851 was sitting up with his back against the far wall of the cell. He was holding his hands up with his palms facing the officers. D1851 is shown on the footage for only a few seconds. D1851 said, “I am not going anywhere please, I am not going anywhere.” He repeated this statement several times to the officers standing around his bed.

Figure 21: Mr Bromley, Mr Shadbolt and Mr Sayers pinning D390, and D1851 sitting on his bed with his hands up

  1. The cell lights were turned on approximately 25 seconds after the officers entered the cell, by which point D390 had already been restrained. Approximately 15 seconds after that, D390 was led out onto the landing with his arms restrained behind his back by Mr Bromley and Mr Shadbolt. He said, “I was told to pack though, what’s this about?”, before he was led from A Wing.
  2. D1851 is not visible on the footage for the remainder of the incident, but three officers can still be seen inside the cell, standing close to his bed. It is not clear from the footage whether any of these officers were still holding a shield, but their posture suggests that they were not.
  3. In D1851’s written evidence to the Inquiry, he said that it was not true that D390 had been repeatedly boiling the kettle:

“Boiling a kettle repeatedly, which is next to my head where I was laying on the bed, is something I would have noticed. There is no ventilation in the room, and so it would have been full of steam if it had been boiled repeatedly.”4

  1. D1851 said that he spoke to Mr Povey-Meier and explained that he would not stand to the side of the door because this would result in him being hit when it was opened. He said that he told Mr Povey-Meier that he would instead go and sit on his bed and not intervene.5 D1851 characterised the force used against D390 as “unjustified excessive use of violence against a totally defenceless person”.6
  2. D1851 said that two officers pinned him down using their shields while he was on his back. He said that one shield was pressed onto his chest and the other was holding down his legs.7 However, in his oral evidence to the Inquiry, D1851 suggested that only one of the officers had used a shield against him. He said: “they initially came in and I think one of the staff got their shield to me and I had to sit up and push it”.8
  3. D1851 also said:

“the way they were dressed in full kind of riot gear with heavy-duty plastic shields was menacing and overwhelming. They were like the army, and it was like some kind of military raid.”9

  1. D1851 said that he cried a lot after the incident on 5 June 2017. He described struggling to stay positive in a difficult environment and said:

“However, this took on a completely different aspect in that they had physically touched me, which added an additional fear of the officers.”10

He added that the incident left him feeling like he was no longer safe in his cell.

  1. In D1851’s evidence to the Inquiry, he said that the incident left him feeling “helpless, and completely vulnerable. There was no guarantee that my health and safety would be safeguarded while I was in detention. It felt like a lawless environment.11 D1851 said that he did not make a request to be seen for an assessment under Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 as the understanding among detained people was that this process was only for those who had been a victim of torture.12 I discuss the issue of accessing Rule 35 assessments in detail in Chapter D.5 in Volume II. D1851 said that he had been diagnosed with “PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], depression and anxiety” following his release from Brook House.13
  2. D390 did not give evidence to the Inquiry. I considered his account of the events provided in an unsigned witness statement in support of D1851’s claim for unlawful detention, as it relates to the potential mistreatment of D1851. In this statement, D390 said that he had shared a cell with D1851 for a month and a half and that, in that time, he believed that D1851’s physical and mental health deteriorated. D390 described D1851 as having cold sweats in the night, crying on many occasions, and becoming more withdrawn and reclusive.14
  3. D390 said that he had been forcibly removed from Brook House and that D1851 had been in the cell with him when this happened.15 D390 described D1851 informing the officers that if he stood by the side of the door it would hit him as it was opened, and that he would instead sit on his bed and allow them to enter the cell. D390 said that D1851 offered no threat and that it had not been necessary for him to be pinned down by two large officers.16 D390 described D1851 as screaming and shouting at the officers to leave him alone.17 D390 said that he was hit with batons and suffered injuries including persistent migraines and swelling to his knee and ankle.18 He said that the trauma of the experience still lived with him.19 D390 said that he was sure that D1851 would also still be affected.19
  4. In his written statement to the Inquiry, Mr Povey-Meier said that he had spoken to D390 earlier in the day about why he was subject to a move order. He said that D390 had informed him that he did not want to go. When the officers later went to D390’s cell, Mr Povey-Meier said that D1851 had refused to leave the cell and went to sit on his bed. Mr Povey-Meier said that he noticed that there was water outside the door, and that he could see that the kettle had just been boiled as there was steam coming out of it and the lid was open. Mr Povey-Meier said that, as boiling water had “historically” been used as a threat, he deemed it necessary and proportionate to go in and use force.20 In his Use of Force report and his evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Povey-Meier said that no force had been used against D1851.21
  5. In his witness statement to the Inquiry, Mr Povey-Meier said that his initial plan had been to give D390 another opportunity to walk out of the cell before force was used. He said that D1851’s refusal to leave the cell and the fact that there was a boiling kettle changed his risk assessment.22 In his oral evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Povey-Meier accepted that giving D390 another opportunity to walk out of the cell, while the staff were still outside with the door shut, would possibly have only taken a matter of 10 seconds, and that this would not have put his team at risk.23
  6. In his Use of Force report, Mr Bromley wrote that Mr Povey-Meier gave D390 instructions through the door but noticed that he was repeatedly boiling his kettle in his cell. Mr Bromley wrote that D390 continued to ignore instructions from Mr Sayers once that officer entered the cell.24 In his oral evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Bromley maintained that D390 had been repeatedly boiling his kettle and had ignored Mr Povey-Meier’s instructions.25 Under questioning by Counsel to the Inquiry, Mr Bromley accepted that the footage showed that there was no attempt to speak with either of the detained people once the officers entered the cell.26 Mr Bromley also accepted, upon viewing the footage during his oral evidence, that shields were used immediately after the officers entered the cell.27
  7. In his Use of Force report, Mr Sayers recorded that he had seen a puddle of water on the floor at the entrance to the cell, and that D390 did not listen to him asking him to sit on the bed.28 Under questioning by Counsel to the Inquiry, Mr Sayers accepted that he could have given D390 more time to react, but blamed his failure to do so on being warned about boiling water being thrown.29
  8. Mr Shadbolt wrote in his Use of Force report that it appeared as if the kettle had been boiled numerous times, as there was a large amount of steam outside the cell.30
  9. Mr Timms did not complete a Use of Force report in relation to his use of the shield against D1851.


  1. CJS0073856 Recorded Briefing: ACTIVE_33225385_1[]
  2. CJS005624_008; CJS005624_021[]
  3. CJS0074063 UOF 137.17 (2)[]
  4. DL0000143_010 para 37[]
  5. DL0000143_010-011 para 39[]
  6. DL0000143_011 para 41[]
  7. DL0000143_011 para 42[]
  8. D1851 3 December 2022 95/11-13[]
  9. DL0000143_009 para 35[]
  10. DL0000143_013 para 46[]
  11. DL0000143_013 para 47[]
  12. DL0000143_026 para 97[]
  13. DL0000143_001 para 3[]
  14. DL0000095_001 para 2[]
  15. DL0000095_001-002 para 4; DL0000095_002 para 5[]
  16. DL0000095_002 para 5[]
  17. DL0000095_002 para 6[]
  18. DL0000095_002 para 9[]
  19. DL0000095_003 para 12[][]
  20. SER000456_012 para 27a[]
  21. Stewart Povey-Meier 17 March 2022 13/13-14/4; CJS005624_016[]
  22. SER000456_012-13 para 12d[]
  23. Stewart Povey-Meier 17 March 2022 14/14-16/2[]
  24. CJS005624_021[]
  25. Ryan Bromley 7 March 2022 116/11-14[]
  26. Ryan Bromley 7 March 2022 114/25-115/3[]
  27. Ryan Bromley 7 March 2022 115/6-9[]
  28. CJS005624_026[]
  29. Sean Sayers 10 March 2022 141/6-142/6, 144/8-20[]
  30. CJS005624_008[]