Learning difficulties certainly impact on the lives of sufferers. Simple tasks can become major issues, and commonly confidence is greatly diminished as feelings of failure and embarrassment become the norm. Individuals can feel alone and sidelined, which can cause frustration and anger. This, in turn, can lead to many more serious behavioural problems.
13 year old Kyle Henry suffers from learning difficulties, which as a result mean that he has high levels of anxiety. On June 22, he was allegedly punched in the head four times by police officer Gregory Macrae, after being wrongly suspected as a burglar. Any child at that age, or any adult for that matter, would have been distressed by the incident. However as a more vulnerable character, Henry is said to have been extremely traumatized by the event.
He was reportedly called upon at the very last minute during Macrae’s hearing to give evidence. His mother Sharon Griffin has described her anger at this, because she feels he was unable to give a clear account of what happened due to his anxiety levels, and was ultimately disappointed with the outcome.
As a result, officer Macrae was cleared at his disciplinary hearing on the basis that he did not use “excessive force.” He has instead been ordered to undergo further training, because the hearing stated the boy’s age and vulnerability should have been considered before a decision was made to search him. Head of the professional standards department at Avon & Somerset police, Superintendent Paul Richards said:”Although the case against the officer was not proven, it was clear that there are some lessons for our frontline officers to learn.”
Criminal injury is a serious offence, and should certainly not be tolerated by members of law enforcement, particularly when aimed at young and vulnerable persons. We can only hope that officers learn quickly, in order for an incident like this to be prevented from happening again.