IT is hardly the way that police recruits are taught to salute. But one officer reacted to being taunted by a thug in a way that is not in his force’s training manual.

As the youth, who was riding a motorbike illegally, waved and did a wheelie, the policeman raised his middle finger in reply. Unfortunately for the officer, he was pictured making the obscene gesture.

The footage was uploaded to the internet - prompting an investigation by his force. Some people insisted the officer should not be disciplined. And he found some sympathy from his own chief constable.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: "I feel the objective should be to find the thug on the bike."

The footage was uploaded by a group called Bikelife Birmingham, which posts videos of stunts online.

The force said: "This behaviour is unacceptable and falls below the high professional standards we expect."