A Lincolnshire police officer has been dismissed for gross misconduct after a panel found that he injured himself and then repeatedly claimed that he had been assaulted while on duty.
PC Anthony Colson’s head was cut and his right hand was also injured when colleagues rushed to help him, but a doctor believed the injuries were self-inflicted.
PC Colson, 48, who previously had an unblemished record, pressed the emergency button on his radio at about 8.30pm on November 18, 2016, after going to an isolated car park in Boston.
The officer’s call for help provoked an urgent response from other officers with dog handlers from Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire, crime scene investigators and a helicopter from the national police air service descending on the scene at Beech Wood.
Lawyers for PC Colson argued he was suffering from depression and was in a mental state which meant he did not consciously manipulate the incident.
But a misconduct panel decided PC Colson had breached professional standards in respect of honesty, integrity and discreditable conduct by pressing the emergency button on his radio and then stating on four occasions that he had been assaulted.
Chairman of the panel, David Tyme, said PC Colson’s actions amounted to gross misconduct.
The panel found that PC Colson attended the car park with the intention of harming himself and was aware of what he was doing when he pressed the emergency button on his radio.
They also noted PC Colson had visited the location earlier on the same evening and medical evidence which concluded his injuries were self inflicted with considerable skill and ability, and were not compatible with an assailant.
Mr Tyme said the panel were sympathetic that there were significant events which had caused PC Colson stress and anxiety but they did not accept there had been no conscious manipulation of the incident.
Oliver Thorne, representing Lincolnshire Police, had told the hearing PC Colson was the “author” of his own injuries and knew that when he gave his accounts.
The misconduct hearing at Lincolnshire Police headquarters was played a transcript of PC Colson’s call in which he says: ““I think I’ve been cut – didn’t see people – they came out of the woods.”
PC Colson is told that officers are on the way and he confirms to the operator that he needs an ambulance.
He’s asked: “How many offenders?” and replies: “Didn’t see anyone or how many.”
Next he’s asked about the incident: “What happened Tony?”
And he replies: “I saw some torch lights. I got out of my car to look, hit on back of neck…bleeding from head.”
The officer was asked how badly he is bleeding and replies: “The tissue I’ve got is pretty drenched.”
He is then informed that help is just 20 seconds away.
The panel heard that a police dog handler found a craft knife 1metre away from PC Colson, and a doctor who examined his injuries formed the view that they were self inflicted with a sharp object.
PC Colson later admitted during a disputed meeting with two senior colleagues that he had not actually been assaulted.
Following the meeting PC Colson was interviewed under criminal caution but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges.
Giving evidence PC Colson told the hearing he had no memory of harming himself and still believed that he had been assaulted by a third party.
The panel heard PC Colson had made an unsuccessful application to join a missing persons unit, but the officer denied it was a desire to get away from front line duties that had motivated his actions.
During the hearing Inspector Gary Brockley, who assisted PC Colson in a welfare role, was asked what local police first made of the incident.
He replied: “Shock, horror, dismay. Complete fear among staff that we had someone at large in Boston who had attacked a police officer.
“We had to go around in double-crewed cars because quite simply it was not fair to send anyone on the road alone.
“The incident itself drew resources from three counties at least as well as the helicopter.”
At the time of the incident PC Colson was suffering from symptoms of depression, and had previously been attacked while on duty, been involved in a road accident and suffered the loss of his father, a close friend and two family dogs.
But the panel were told Lincolnshire Police had not been alerted to a serious mental health crisis by the officer.
PC Colson told the hearing he still thinks he was assaulted by a third party but he now accepts it is possible he harmed himself.
But Mr Thorne told the panel: “The officer was the author of his own injuries, and was aware of that.”
The officer, who has been married for nearly 25 years and has two sons, joined Cambridgeshire Police in 2003 and then transferred to Lincolnshire Police in 2007 as a patrol officer.
He denied five counts of making false communications to police between November 18 and December 16, 2016.
PC Colson was dismissed with immediate effect but has a right of appeal to a Police Appeals Tribunal.