Warning for Northamptonshire policeman who hit constable in the head with pepper spray

editorial image

A Northamptonshire police officer who accidentally hit a constable in the head with pepper spray has been handed a final written warning.

PC Greg Taylor, then a sergeant, was conducting a night shift briefing at Campbell Square police station when a constable, Edward Horsburgh, refused to stop talking.

PC Taylor jokingly said he would use Pava spray on the other officer if he did not quieten down.

When PC Horsburgh continued, Taylor took another officer’s Pava cannister from her uniform and - after taking off the safety - pointed it at the other man,who was jokingly egging him on.

Standing eight feet away, Taylor then accidentally pressed the trigger and a jet of Parva liquid hit Horsburgh in the forehead.

As a result, the constable needed 10 minutes to recover from the debilitating effects.

Giving evidence, PC Taylor said: “I inadvertantly gave the button more force than I intended.

“I thought, ‘Oh dear, I’ve just sprayed my best friend’. It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.

“I set an abysmally poor example.”

Assistant chief constable Rachel Swann, who headed the panel at Wootton Hall today, said that inappropriately discharging Pava spray - which is classed as a firearm - was a serious breach of standards that normally resulted in dismissal.

However, she said the panel accepted that it had been an accident and that even PC Horsburgh had laughed about it.

PC Taylor was also accused of covering up the accident by not declaring what had happened on an electronic form when he submitted the cannister for replacement, which he denied.

Instead of stating there had been an accidental discharge, in the space asking for circumstances he merely said that the cannister had been leaking.

However, PC Taylor denied the breach and the panel accepted that he had omitted the information because he had wanted to explain directly to his Inspector, and could not have given a full explanation in the space provided.

Furthermore, PC Taylor had told a Sergeant about the accident at work the next night and said at that point he intended to tell the inspector about it.

The panel found that, while PC Taylor had demonstarted “some failings” and “naivety”, there was no evidence of deliberate dishonesty.

While his actions were not gross misconduct, he had breached the ‘professional behaviour’ standard and therefore amounted to misconduct.

As a result, PC Taylor - who had already been demoted from Sergeant to PC after the incident - was today given a final written warning to stay on his record for 18 months.

ACC Swann, said: “PC Taylor’s actions have fallen well below those expected of a police officer in particular one in a supervisory role.”