Met Officer Guilty Of Assault Following Croydon Fare Evasion Arrest Incident

A Metropolitan Police Service officer has been convicted of an assault charge following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into an incident where a woman was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion in Croydon last year.

PC Perry Lathwood, attached to the Road Traffic Policing Command, was today found guilty of assault by beating. The verdict followed a one-day trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court last week. He will be sentenced on 14 June.

We began our investigation following a complaint referral from the Met Police, which was made on the woman’s behalf in the days after the incident took place on Whitehorse Road on 21 July 2023.

We established that PC Lathwood and other officers were assisting Transport for London (TFL) on a joint revenue protection operation to target fare evasion.

At about 11.12am, the woman exited a bus with her young child. She was approached by a TFL inspector and asked for her ticket. The woman said she told the inspector to walk with her while she got out her bus pass as she was in a hurry.

A Met Police Community Support Officer saw this and stood in the way of the woman to try to prevent her from walking away.

Police body worn footage shows PC Lathwood walked over to the woman and took hold of her arm to stop her walking away. He told the woman she was being detained for fare evasion and cautioned her.

A struggle took place with the woman repeatedly stating she wanted officers to let her go. PC Lathwood informed the woman that she was under arrest and placed handcuffs on her with the assistance of another officer.

After the woman was restrained by officers, her bus pass was scanned which confirms she had paid for her journey. The handcuffs were removed and she was dearrested.

Footage of the incident was also captured from videos filmed by members of the public and CCTV from the bus.

Accounts given by the woman and hospital notes indicated that as a result of the incident, she suffered pain in her wrists, her right arm, which was held by the officer, and shoulder, with bruising noted by a doctor.

Evidence reviewed in our investigation included multiple pieces of footage, medical evidence, accounts from other police staff and TFL staff present, police records, and local and national policies and legislation. The officer was interviewed under criminal caution and we also obtained an account from the woman.

At the end of our investigation, we referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to determine whether or not the officer should be charged with an offence. The CPS decided the officer should be charged with assault by beating.

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said:

Today a judge has found that the use of force by PC Lathwood against the woman after her arrest, including the use of handcuffs and holding onto her arm, was unlawful and he has been convicted of assault.

Any use of force by officers should be reasonable, proportionate and justifiable in the circumstances.

This was a high-profile incident that caused significant concern, particularly in the Croydon community, after footage of the incident was published online.

We carried out an independent and impartial investigation to establish the facts surrounding this incident, including the actions of the police officers involved.

The decision to refer a file of evidence to the CPS to consider criminal charges is not something we take lightly and this was done after careful consideration of the evidence, including liaison with the CPS.”

Following the conclusion of criminal proceedings, we will now liaise with the force to progress disciplinary proceedings for the officer.

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