The father of an autistic boy restrained by Metropolitan Police officers after he jumped into a swimming pool has attacked the force for challenging a ruling against them.

Last year a judge said officers had falsely imprisoned and discriminated against the boy, known only as ZH.

He was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints and put in a police van.

The Met is to appeal against the judgement on Tuesday, saying it could affect operational effectiveness.

In 2008, ZH, then aged 16, was on a school trip to Acton Baths in west London. He has severe autism and epilepsy and a mental age of five. He can react adversely if touched or approached by someone he does not know.

During the trip, he became fixated by the water and approached it, staying by the pool side for at least half an hour. His carers told swimming pool staff that his behaviour was consistent with his condition and that he had to be given time to move away of his own accord.

When police officers called by the pool manager arrived, they tried to take hold of ZH. He immediately jumped into the chest-deep water. Witnesses say he was not in trouble in the water and bobbed up and down excitedly.

But as police officers then tried to forcibly get him out, ZH became agitated and distressed. Soaking wet, he was eventually restrained by two pairs of handcuffs and leg restraints and locked into the cage compartment of a police van.

Central London County Court heard that the experience exacerbated ZH’s epilepsy and he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a significant ruling against the Met, the judge Sir Robert Nelson found the force had subjected ZH to inhuman or degrading treatment and to unlawful discrimination because of his disability. He awarded the boy almost £30,000 in damages.

The judge said: “What was needed from the police on their arrival was a calm assessment of the situation so as to ensure that they were as fully informed as the circumstances permitted before taking action.

“They were not summonsed to deal with a crime, but with a disabled young man trying to get into a swimming pool.”

In a statement issued through solicitors Bhatt Murphy, ZH’s father criticised the Metropolitan Police for refusing to accept the ruling and deciding to argue the case before three of the country’s most senior judges at the Court of Appeal.

ZH’s father said: “The thousands of pounds of public money spent by [Metropolitan Police] Commissioner Hogan-Howe defending the indefensible would be much better spent requiring his officers to treat people with disabilities humanely.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “The issues raised in this case are very important. The Metropolitan Police Service believe that the County Court Judgement would impact on future operational effectiveness and are therefore appealing the decision.”

By BBC News