TWO police officers are facing a disciplinary hearing for allowing a woman’s bra to be removed in front of fellow male officers whilst she was in custody.

Sergeant Lloyd Buffery and PC Ashley Bloor were ordered to speak before a disciplinary panel on allegations that their behaviour constituted gross misconduct at West Mercia Police’s headquarters in Hindlip, after a complaint was made by a woman in custody about how she was treated.

The unnamed woman was arrested after a “domestic incident” in Worcester in December 2017 and brought to Worcester Police Station after assaulting her partner, where she then kicked and spat at a police officer.

The woman was “drunk, aggressive and violent” and semi-dressed when she arrived at custody according to Sgt Buffery and had spat at a police officer.

Sgt Buffery said he'd agreed to remove the bra because he had been ordered to do so by the force’s head of custody just over two weeks earlier in an email which said to remove all ligatures from detainees – including belts and shoelaces – to prevent self-harm, and Sgt Buffery took the instruction to include bras.

He said female detainees – particularly ones that were uncooperative – had regularly had their bras removed when in custody, when speaking to the disciplinary panel on Wednesday (December 4).

The woman had been placed face down on the floor and held down by male officers whilst a female officer removed her bra and replaced her jogging bottoms. Officers had also put a shirt on the woman.

Sgt Buffery said he was concerned about maintaining the woman’s dignity but said it was necessary to stop the woman from self-harming. He admitted he had told officers “you’ll just have to close your eyes, boys.” He maintained he had not told any male officers to remove any of the woman’s clothes.

Sgt Buffery said he had “no other option” but to instruct officers to remove the woman’s bra in front of several male officers because only one female officer was available to help at the time.

Sgt Buffery, who was behind the custody desk when the woman was brought into custody, said: “I am thinking how can I do this as quickly as possible whilst maintaining her dignity. I don’t see what I could have done any better than what I did do at the time.”

Sgt Buffery said it was best practice for five officers to restrain an uncooperative detainee in a cell meaning he would have needed at least four more female officers to have been available for the procedure to be carried out properly.

Sgt Buffery said he knew that he had to record the justification for removing the woman’s bra and admitted he should have better recorded his reasons but was still struggling to get to grips with the police’s new computer system.

The hearing continues.