A police officer's actions in restraining a 14-year-old boy by putting his arm up his back and choking him was excessive and contrary to law, an Independent Police Conduct Authority report says.

Around 7.30pm on August 25 last year, police were notified that a 14-year-old boy had run away from Tauranga Hospital.

It was the second time the boy had run from the hospital that evening after he was admitted earlier that day.

The police officers who had located the boy earlier in the day were assigned to find him a second time.


Just before 8pm the officers found the boy collapsed on a road. They called an ambulance so the boy could be assessed before he was taken back to hospital. The two ambulance officers arrived and the police officers accompanied the boy into the back of the ambulance for treatment.

The ambulance officers complained to the authority that excessive force was used by police in restraining the boy.

Independent Police Conduct Authority chairman Sir David Carruthers said the authority found that under the Mental Health Act the officers were justified in apprehending and detaining the boy.

However, the actions of one of the police officers escalated an already volatile situation and was not good policing practice.

"Although the officer was entitled to use reasonable force to restrain the boy, the force used in putting the boy's arm up his back and choking him was excessive and contrary to law.

"It is clear to the authority that the officer, in speaking to the boy in the manner that he did, aggravated the situation and increased the likelihood that force would need to be used. The officer did not adopt a strategy to effectively deal with the boy and de-escalate the situation," Sir David said.

The authority noted that as a result of the police investigation into the incident, the officer involved had been subject to disciplinary proceedings.

However, due to the conflicting evidence the high threshold required for criminal prosecution was not met.