Home   Folkestone   News   Article

Kent Police staff cleared of conduct breach after Steve Holton death at Folkestone Harbour

By Sean Axtell

Police staff “did not breach professional standards” after a man died from a single punch, a watchdog has ruled.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched the probe into the conduct of three staff following Steve Holton’s death in Folkestone Harbour last year.

Gerald Philpott, 29, struck Mr Holton, 54, during an early morning row on August 19 last year, claiming he acted in self-defence.

The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman (2884467)
The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman (2884467)

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court found Philpott not guilty of manslaughter in July this year.

The IOPC’s investigation centred on the handling of an abandoned 999 call at 1.40am routed from British Telecom.

A call recording of Mr Holton’s voice appeared to ask for police before cutting out, according to the IOPC’s report.

But the control room operator decided not to return the call after the phone number flagged up a number of warnings, including domestic violence.

“The control room operator completed intelligence checks on Kent Police systems, which showed a number of warnings recorded for the man, including for domestic violence.

“Following this, the control room operator decided not to call the telephone number back,” the report says.

The call log was graded ‘high’ - giving officers four hours to attend – and passed to another department for review.

Yet 45 minutes later a member of the public called 999 with reports of Mr Holton being seriously injured. When police and paramedics attended, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Subsequently three Kent Police staff were served with misconduct notices but later cleared of any wrong-doing.

The IOPC’s report continues: “During the investigation, we gathered and examined relevant documents, reviewed the abandoned 999 call and analysed the force’s call handling systems.

The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman (2884470)
The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman (2884470)

“We also obtained witness statements from the police staff who dealt with the abandoned 999 call on August 19, 2017.

“Following this, three members of Kent Police staff were served with misconduct notices regarding their assessment and grading of the abandoned call. We particularly looked at whether they followed local and national policy and guidance.

“At the end of the investigation, based on the evidence available, we were of the opinion that the three members of Kent Police staff had followed guidance in place and had therefore not breached professional standards of behaviour.

“However, we made a learning recommendation to the force regarding its call handling policy when the individuals involved have warning markers, such as for domestic violence. The force is implementing this.”

Join the debate...
Comments |

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Follow us

Like Us on Facebook

Most popular

Kent Travel News

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More