No way of knowing what refresher training police had got, Bayoh inquiry told

Sheku Bayoh died after a confrontation with police in Kirkcaldy in May 2015 (PA)
Sheku Bayoh died after a confrontation with police in Kirkcaldy in May 2015 (PA)

A police inspector responsible for instructing officers across Police Scotland said there was “no way of telling” what training officers “actually received” in the run-up to Sheku Bayoh’s death.

Inspector James Young gave evidence to the Sheku Bayoh Inquiry for the second time on Wednesday.

He was the national officer safety training (OST) co-ordinator for Police Scotland at the time of Mr Bayoh’s death.

Mr Bayoh, 31, a father-of-two, died after he was restrained on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy on May 3 2015.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Solicitor Aamer Anwar, centre, with Sheku Bayoh’s family (Dan Barker/PA)

The inquiry is investigating the circumstances of his death, how police dealt with the aftermath, the subsequent investigation, and whether race was a factor.

Mr Young told the inquiry, in a written statement, that a new training manual had come into use from 2013 to be used across all of the former legacy forces that made up Police Scotland to ensure there was consistency across the country.

But some trainers across the force “preferred to use their own techniques” because they did “not agree” with the methods contained in the manual, Inspector Young told the inquiry.

Senior Counsel to the inquiry, Angela Grahame KC, took Mr Young through a statement from David Agnew, a trainer at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan, Fife, in which he outlined the best practice approach to training.

Mr Agnew wrote that students (trainee police officers) were taught to be aware of the signs of positional asphyxia and they would be reminded that because somebody can speak and shout, it did not necessarily mean they were able to breathe properly.

He also wrote that students would be taught to look out for behavioural changes such as suddenly stopping resistance and going limp.

The inquiry heard students were also taught to be mindful of where they were placing their hands and body weight when restraining a subject.

In his written statement, Mr Agnew wrote: “We would teach students that the knee should be on the shoulder and we would point out that it shouldn’t be on the head, shouldn’t be on the neck, shouldn’t be on the back or anything like that, it should always be on the shoulder that we were putting that pressure.”

Ms Grahame asked if what Mr Agnew had written about was similar to Mr Young’s recollection of what new recruits should be taught.

“Yes,” he answered.

Mr Young also said that prior to changes in the way officers were trained, it was “not uncommon” to see officers “lying across” the backs of violent subjects to restrain them.

Ms Grahame asked Mr Young about the training received by the officers who had been on the scene at Hayfield Road in Kirkcaldy, the day of Mr Bayoh’s death.

Police Constables Ashley Tomlinson, James McDonough and Kayleigh Good were all probationer officers on May 8 2015 and had received either initial operational training, or refresher training, in the six months since the day’s events.

Ms Grahame asked Mr Young: “Would it be fair to say Pc’s Tomlinson, McDonough and Good would all have received training in relation to the 2013 manual?”

Mr Young replied: “For some elements it is fair to say that.

“For the refresher elements, there is no way of telling what training they actually received because it was back at force and as I outlined in my evidence, there was that disparity across (legacy) forces. It was difficult to ascertain exactly what training they would have received in the refresher.”

The inquiry has heard previously that “level five” force, known as “deadly or lethal force” had been used in restraining Mr Bayoh.

He was shoulder-charged and punched by Pc Craig Walker and that the “upper part” of Pc Walker’s 25-stone body was on Mr Bayoh’s shoulder.

Mr Bayoh died shortly after his confrontation with police.

His family believe race played a part in his death, which the inquiry is investigating.

The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.