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UK Sikh cop saves life but faces ire

Amerjit Singh restrained a suicidal man but has been reprimanded by his seniors for using too much force.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2005 11:08 IST

A British police constable of Indian origin saved a man's life but has been reprimanded by his seniors for using too much force while grabbing the man as he threatened to jump from a second-floor window.

The constable, Amerjit Singh, 26, restrained the suicidal man, who was high on drink and drugs and acting aggressively, but instead of being commended, he has been disciplined after the man's father complained that Singh used unnecessary force.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ordered the officer be given a verbal warning after ruling that he did not use a "Home Office-approved hold" designed to minimise risk of injury during the incident in Peterborough last year.

Singh's fellow officers described the commission's ruling as "unbelievable".

Tony Laud, secretary of Cambridgeshire Police Federation, told the Daily Mail: "This was a young officer doing what he believed was the best thing and, rather than receiving a pat on the back, he found himself being told off. He feels really disappointed."

David Sanders, a local Conservative-councillor and member of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority, added: "Will a cop put himself out time after time just to find a complaint against his name at the end of it?

"If a bobby is out of order he should be disciplined. But the abuse of the system is sapping the morale of many good officers."

Singh, one of the first Sikhs to be recruited by Cambridgeshire Police, was in his first year in uniform when he and two colleagues were called to the house in September 2004.

They arrived to find the man in a violent rage. When they tried to calm him down, he threatened to throw himself from the window.

Singh managed to grab the man despite being assaulted himself, including being kicked between the legs.

The man's father entered the room as Singh was holding his son down and, despite being told of what had just happened, made a complaint of heavy-handedness.

Len Jackson, IPCC's commissioner for Central England, said: "It is clear that an inappropriate and potentially dangerous hold was used and advice was therefore given to the officer in this regard."

Singh was given "words of advice" - the lowest form of disciplinary action.

Cambridgeshire Police said on Wednesday it was "satisfied the officer involved intervened with the best intentions".

A spokesman added: "The method in which he dealt with the incident was found by the IPCC to have been inappropriate and he has been given words of advice.

"This matter has now been resolved and finalised."

Singh's father, Manjit, said: "It's absolutely ridiculous. It's the father who should be reprimanded."

Singh, who gave up a career as a legal executive to join the force, became one of Cambridgeshire's first two Sikh officers when he was recruited with his cousin Indarjit.

In an interview at the time, he described how he wanted to make a contribution to his community.

"I hope my joining will encourage others from Peterborough's large Asian
community who may have any trepidation or fears about joining the police," he said.

The IPCC's ruling was described as "barking mad" by Singh's Conservative MP, Stewart Jackson: "We should be applauding the bravery and commitment of this young man rather than pillorying him."

First Published: Nov 11, 2005 11:08 IST