Trial by social media of police officers 'spirals out of control' and only portrays 'one side' of an incident, says West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair

Members of the public who film arrests and share them online means officers are being subjected to 'trial by social media' which 'spirals out of control', a Yorkshire police chief has said.

Police officers were pictured pinning down a man in Leeds city centre on Monday in video circulated online.

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Brian Booth has backed a speech from Home Secretary Priti Patel over the matter, as West Yorkshire Metropolitan Mayor Tracy Brabin met with West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, John Robins QPM, earlier this week to discuss mounting concerns.

It followed recent events in Leeds city centre, when footage circulated online of a man being pepper sprayed and pinned down on Albion Street on Monday as he was arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour in a public place.

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The footage prompted concerns over officers' use of force on the man - who is a person of colour - and whether it was proportionate.

Members of the public who film arrests and share them online means officers are being subjected to 'trial by social media', police chiefs say

Black Lives Matter campaigners since announced plans to hold an emergency protest in response to the video, in which bystanders can be heard protesting at officers' use of force.

A statement from Black Lives Matter Leeds said the group was "alarmed" by the footage of the man's arrest.

A spokesperson said: "Black communities are tired of seeing the police abuse their position by profiling and attacking innocent black people in the street for no reason. We will not tolerate police racism and brutality."

But since Monday's incident, the force released a statement to say the man in the video had been "acting aggressively" in the Trinity shopping centre and seen drinking on a public bench.

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Brian Booth

The force added that the man had been resisting arrest and that he was not injured in the subsequent use of force, adding that a community resolution was reached meaning that he would not face prosecution.

"A referral has been made to West Yorkshire Police Professional Standards Directorate so that the circumstances can be formally reviewed," a spokesman for the force confirmed.

Home Secretary Priti Patel meanwhile announced in a speech yesterday (Wednesday) that police officers should not be subjected to "trial by social media", as she backed calls to publish more body-worn video footage of incidents.

In a speech to the annual Police Federation of England and Wales conference, Priti Patel said “transparency is vital” and supported plans to tackle “misleading” video clips uploaded on to social media”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Now West Yorkshire's Police Federation Chair Brian Booth has declared support for the argument, saying footage being shared online can often "spiral out of control" and often only present one side of the story.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Booth said: "I agreed with Priti Patel, when she said in her speech, that she believes police forces should be proactive in releasing body-worn footage to counter ‘trial by social media’.

"The trial by social media normally spirals out of control because it portrays only one side of the incident.

"This is about being open and transparent to the public we police. It comes with a warning though, that not all body worn footage could be released due to the fact it may interfere with the justice process."