Security Guard Not Guilty of Manslaughter

Security Guard Found Not Guilty of Manslaughter

It was reported in the press yesterday that the Security Officer, Sam Bawden, who restrained a shop thief, Aaron Bishop, who subsequently died as a result of the restraint, has been found not guilty of the charge of manslaughter. You can see the BBC News item by clicking here.

Although the case against the Security Guard is over there are still questions to be asked regarding the culpability of the retail company that the Security Officer was working for at the time.

Lack of Training – Possible Breach of Health & Safety Legislation

According to the Security Officer he had been trained to allegedly ‘chase thieves’ yet it has been reported in the press that he had been given no training in how to actually restrain them? It also seems that employers are still failing to provide basic suitable and sufficient instruction, training and information to staff on the risk of positional asphyxia. This has to be a breach of Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Possible Breach of The Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act 2007

In addition, there may be a possibility that the family of the deceased man could take action under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act against the employer if the death of their relative was caused by a gross breach of a duty of care owed by the senior management who, through neglect or connivance (also a breach of Section 37 of the health & Safety at Work Act 1974), failed to suitable manage the risk posed to Aaron Bishop, the 22 year-old who died as a result.

Possible Violation of Article 2(1) of The Human Rights Act 1998

All citizens of the United Kingdom have a right to life. This is an Absolute Right as provided by Article 2(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998, and it cannot be taken away, even in times of war. This means that all public authorities (either direct or quasi), must take positive steps to promote the right to life, especially where a risk to life is known to exist.

Known Risks to Life

Coroners Courts have been providing recommendations for some time now of how to avoid the risk of positional asphyxiation by not using techniques that increase he risk of death – especially for those more vulnerable when being restrained. Coroners have time and time again advised against the use of neck-locks and prone restraint because of the vast amount of information and research that highlights the risk of death from the use of such techniques.

Michael Mansfield’s View on Known Techniques That Could Cause Death

Reasonable Force MP3 Audio Set

In the sample of Michael Mansfield’s audio recording he talks about the risk of using certain techniques that are well known to cause death and how these techniques could be a violation of Article 2 of the Human rights Act. Listening to this is light of the two cases above raises some very interesting points! Anyone interested in the above cases must definitely be interested in the views of one of the UK’s most eminent legal minds. To listen to the Audio Extract click here.

Where Next

A few good people have already started petitioning agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive and their local MP to look into this case on the basis that although the Security Officer, Sam Bowden, was found not guilty of any charge, there may certainly be a culpability and liability for the employer in failing to train their staff to do what they were employed to do.

For the Family of Aaron Bishop

That employer had a duty to protect Aaron’s life. If the security guards employed were expected to use physical force against members of the public they have to be trained properly. That means the training must comply with the standards imposed by Health and Safety legislation and the Human Rights Act 1988. On that basis you may very well have a strong case for a charge of Corporate Manslaughter against Mr. Bowen’s employer and you may wish to seek legal advice on that basis.

Mr. Bowden’s Case

As for Mr. Sam Bowden, he may well have a case against his employer too. If his employer provided him with instruction, either direct or inferred, that he would be expected to chase and restrain members of the public, but then failed to provide him with proper restraint training  (including information and instruction on the risk of positional asphyxiation and how to minimise those risks consistent with Aaron Bishop’s right not to have had his life take away from him), then they have a case to answer for.

Any comments or views you have on this would be welcome.

Mark Dawes


I am the Director and National Coach Tutor of NFPS Ltd., a specialist provider of Conflict Risk Management Consultancy and Training with specific expertise in Physical Restraint, Breakaway and Self-Defence. In addition to providing training, advice, consultancy and guidance on the physiological aspects mentioned above, we also provide training in NLP, Hypnosis and Meditation as these skills combined provide a holistic way to improve our psychology. By helping people improve both, their physiology and their psychology, we provide a complete and holistic approach to training and development.

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Posted in Positional Asphyxia, Reasonable Force
5 comments on “Security Guard Not Guilty of Manslaughter
  1. Chris says:

    I am a Security Officer and I too will chase and restrain offenders using reasonable force. I am very respectful, helpful and polite to members of the public and when I have to deal with someone who is hostile I still will talk to and treat them like a human being.
    I carry and use handcuffs when I am on duty and have been trained by a very reputable training company (Niton Equipment & Training) on the use of handcuffs. This course covered the H&S at work in my role, the correct application of handcuffs, report writting, handing over to Police, positional asthyxia and even how to bring someone handcuffed to their feet. It also taught you great restraint and arrest techniques.
    I believe is Sam Bawden had handcuffs and the sufficient training, Aaron Bishop would still be alive. As the handcuffs would have been applied, Mr Bishop would have been stood up and comfortable. Once I have handcuffed someone, I bring them to their feet, check them for injuries resulting from the struggle and take them to the office where they sit in a chair with a drink of water (with my help of course). Once they are handcuffed they have no risk of harming me (well very very little risk) so no continuous restraint required therefore, no positional asphyxia.

  2. filmy tube says:

    I feel that is an interesting point, it made me assume a bit. Thank you for sparking my thinking cap. Once in a while I am getting so much in a rut that I just feel like a record.

  3. Fernando Rose says:

    I would ask the same question I have heard many times before in court…. “What would another person of the same experience and industry do ? ” the reasonalbe persons test may have to be applied and taken into consideration.

    If there was no malice intended then the courts have made the right decision.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Richard Diston, markdawes. markdawes said: : […]

  5. Rich Diston says:

    Absolutely. I will keep you all updated using this blog entry on the responses I recieve from the bodies I have approached.

    It should also be noted that the client of the security company could also be liable as the security company acts as their agent. I think this is covered by Management of H&S Regulations 1999 (Reg 21) – feel free to correct me if I am mistaken here.

    It is about time that the HSE showed its teeth in regard to deaths under restraint otherwise the apathy will continue. Official organisations within the security industry who toot their horns and collect money in the name of training and raising standards are silent on this issue and perhaps it is time they actually made themselves useful and added their lobbying power to ours to make a real difference here. There are officers out there right now in the same position as Sam Bawden was placed in, and it is only a matter of time before more tragedies occur.

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