Mr Danny Burnett, 52, was at his local Jobcentre on Staplers Road, Newport on Thursday lunchtime when, during a confrontation with G4S employees, he claims to have been assaulted by a member of the security team.
Although Mr Burnett admits to having been confrontational and angry, under UK law trained security guards can only use ‘reasonable force’ in their line of duty. Locals have jumped to Mr Burnett’s defence saying that the hard-hitting photographs show quite substantial injuries.
Speaking to Island Echo, Danny explained how he suffers from a physical disability, as well as recovering from mental health issues. The Newport resident currently lives in accommodation for individuals with mental health issues who are supported to regain independent living skills before moving on into general needs accommodation.
Following the incident, Danny says he cannot return to the Jobcentre as he feels he is no longer safe there.
The Isle of Wight Ambulance Service were called to the incident shortly before 12:15 on Thursday and conveyed Danny to hospital, where he received treatment for his facial injuries and a snapped tendon in his index finger.
This photograph (right) shows bruising and swelling to Mr Burnett’s left eye, which was stitched, as well as grazes to his face and a cut to his nose.
Reliving the events of Friday lunchtime, Mr Burnett has explained:
“My son phoned myself whilst I was in the Jobcentre and we were agreeing to meet, when I noticed a security guard coming toward myself, muttering something. I was listening to my son and so do not know what the security guard was muttering, but once he had reached myself he immediately raised his arms and grabbed myself by the left shoulder and right side.
“I instinctively tried pulling away and shouted ‘get your hands off me’. My son says he heard this on the other end of the phone. I was shocked and did not know what was going on. I was scared.
“The security guard immediately grappled myself and said something along the lines of ‘so you want to hit me do you’, very aggressively. I believe he used this tactic to validate then throwing myself to the floor, very violently.
“The next thing I remember, I was laying on the floor with blood running into my eyes and down my face, with the security guard atop of myself restraining me. I do not know where my phone was by now, but it had to be on the floor somewhere having been thrown from my hand.
“It was difficult to see much with the injuries I had sustained and blood in my eyes. My eyes were very swollen as well and almost shut.
“He [the security guard] told his colleague to grab myself somewhere, but I was dazed by now and didn’t know what was happening. The security guard atop of myself then told someone to phone the Police.
“After some time the Police arrived and I was handcuffed and arrested for Affray, then de-arrested and taken to St Mary’s Hospital for medical attention by the paramedics. Amazingly I was then re-arrested at the hospital for a Section 4 Public Order Offence to allow for further investigation and possibly await a court summons”.
The security guard accused of assault has been suspended from work and a formal complaint has been made to Hampshire Constabulary by Mr Burnett.
A spokesperson for G4S has told Island Echo:
“Excessive force has no place in our business under any circumstance and the safety of all our staff and visitors in the job centres we secure is something we take extremely seriously.
“While we are working with our partners to conduct a thorough investigation, the employee involved in this incident has been suspended from their duties.”
UPDATE 8TH MARCH:
G4S have told Island Echo that they have conducted a thorough investigation and as a result have reinstated the suspended security guard.
A spokesperson for G4S said:
“Having reviewed the CCTV footage and witness statements from people in the centre at the time of the incident, it has been made clear that the customer tried to assault our security officer. Our security officer attempted to restrain the customer during which time the customer fell to the ground causing his glasses to cut his nose.
“Both police and doctors at the local hospital have told us that the customer did not gain the black eye due to his restraint and the injury was sustained the day before.
“Across the country, G4S employs more than 2,200 security officers at over 650 JobCentre Plus facilities. Every month, officers report around 550 incidents, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault. In an average month, around ten officers are physically assaulted. In the past 14 months, nearly 200 man days have been lost due to officers requiring time off sick as a result of being assaulted at work.
“We meet regularly with the customer – the DWP – and the GMB union to discuss serious incidents and trends to look at ways of making the job safer for both JobCentre Plus staff and our security officers”.