An Open Letter To Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP

Mesdames,

I truly hope that what I have to say is not, and will not be viewed as, a knee-jerk reaction to a single hiccup in process.  It most certainly is not.

Most recently there has been the case of Anthony Long, a retired Authorised Firearms Officer with the Metropolitan Police, who was recently acquitted of murdering Azelle Rodney some ELEVEN YEARS earlier.  After the verdict Mr Rodney’s mother said this

The IPCC still owe me an apology for the wholly inadequate investigation in 2005. A better investigation may have resulted in a trial nine years ago – I can never get those years back – the IPCC must stop failing families in this way.

She was clearly not satisfied with the IPCC investigation.

Today we hear Mr Long’s thoughts on the situation.  In a BBC News report it was reported thus;

He expressed his concerns about the Independent Police Complaints Commission in a Radio Times interview.

An IPCC spokesman said it was “right that when there is a fatality there is an independent investigation”.

Mr Long said scrutiny was expected, but said “the problem is the interpretation of the rules and the way in which officers were treated”.

He added: “Today, the Independent Police Complaints Commission seems to be treating police officers as criminals.

Clearly Mr Long isn’t satisfied with the IPCC investigation either.  Both sides of the fence claiming that the IPCC were incompetent, or worse.

At the very beginning of August we had the nonsense in Manchester where the IPCC requested a Judicial Review to quash their own report because they had got it wrong.

Police watchdog granted judicial review to quash own report into death of Jordan Begley

The unprecedented move by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) comes after criticism of the Greater Manchester Police during an inquest last year. In their report of the incident, the IPCC cleared GMP of blame.

An IPCC spokesman said: “At the coroner’s inquest into the death of Jordan Begley concerns were raised about the conduct of the officers involved that may not have been consistent with the IPCC’s findings.

“In light of this, the IPCC reviewed its investigation and decided to seek permission to quash its independent investigation report in order to ensure all the available evidence could be considered.

Surely ALL of the available evidence should have been considered before the final report was even written?  On face value that seems very shoddy practice and consistent with that found within the IPCC elsewhere in England and Wales.

Jordan Begley’s mother also attacked the competence of the IPCC, she clearly has no confidence in them, neither can I see why the Greater Manchester Police should have any.

At the end of July we had the case of Edric Kennedy-Macfoy, a firefighter who alleged that he was Tasered and racially abused by three officers from the Met.  This case has been well reported in the media, and the case against the officers collapsed not only due to wholly negligent (being generous) procedures by the IPCC but also the fact that there were numerous witnesses who allegedly supported the officers’ version of events.

The Guardian reports it thus

IPCC bungled case against officers accused of abusing firefighter

In a statement the IPCC vowed to review the case to ensure it did not repeat the blunders. It said: “The withdrawal follows procedural shortfalls identified by the IPCC. They related to disclosure of relevant material and the need for further investigative work, including witness interviews, which it became clear were not conducted during the investigation.

Even the IPCC admitting that their investigation did not come up to standard, leaving both Mr Kennedy-Macfoy and the 3 Police Officers lacking confidence in the IPCC.

The Guardian also had this to say

The watchdog admitted it failed to take into account statements corroborating the officers’ accounts from independent witnesses, did not interview those witnesses and then failed to disclose those statements during disciplinary proceedings.

Admissions like these can hardly instill confidence in anybody.

At the end of 2015 we had an Authorised Firearms Officeer arrested for ‘homicide’ following the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker.

In the IPCC’s most recent update on this case Commissioner Cindy Butts says

As part of the IPCC’s homicide investigation, an MPS firearms officer was arrested on 17 December. That officer has now been interviewed twice by IPCC investigators under criminal caution and remains on bail.

In total, the IPCC has so far obtained more than 450 documents, gathered in excess of 250 exhibits of evidence and obtained more than 250 witness statements.

The investigative work is now focused on scrutinising the planning, risk assessments and decision-making of the MPS operation.

Right from Day 1 Cindy Butts sensationalised this case by bandying words such as Homicide about and her handling of a Public Meeting in North London

“There is disgruntlement among armed officers because their colleague was arrested and is facing the possibility of a homicide charge or whatever other pretend words the IPCC is thinking of,” said Mr Marsh.

Clearly the Police Federaqtion are not impressed with the handling of this investigation so far, although I do accept that it has not reached its conclusion yet.

Prior to this we had the disciplinary process involving ex Chief Constable Nick Gargan of Avon and Somerset Police.

Concerns raised over IPCC’s handling of Nick Gargan investigation

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said

I believe the IPCC acted with good intentions to protect and support witnesses and not betray the confidence of those that did come forward, but clearly the way they managed the process in this case has caused concern, as any failure to follow the disclosure process could have led to the proceedings being compromised or worse still collapsing.

The disclosure process needs to be reviewed by the IPCC so it is clearer for all concerned in future investigations and I will be writing to the IPCC Chair Dame Anne Owers to request this.

Disclosure is clearly an issue with the IPCC, not restricted to one isolated investigation.

I do not know of one single Police Officer who thinks that the Police Service should be unanswerable and unaccountable.  What they do expect is that ALL SIDES are examined equally, fairly and truly independently.  Anything less than that lets the Police down and it lets the Public they serve down, and neither side wants that.

I emplore you to initiate a programme of reform of the IPCC that goes beyond rebranding, rebadging and an increased budget.  A Root and Branch reform of working practices, policies, abilities etc etc is what is needed, plus a proper INVESTIGATION into the cases above where serious shortcomings have been highlighted.  A Review or a Scrutiny is simply not sufficient.

I’m obliged.

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Yes Folks, It’s Pantomime Season Once More

Oh no it isn’t.

Oh, yes it is.

Last night saw a public meeting, chaired by the Metropolitan Police, to discuss and seek to explain the events leading up to the fatal shooting of a young black man, Jermaine Baker.

Let me be clear, I KNOW no more than anybody else, why would I? However, like others, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the IPCC handling of events such as this.

After the shooting of Mark Duggan the IOCC quickly made a statement to the public.  It included;

“We do not know in the order the shots were fired (sic). We understand the officer was shot first before the male was shot”

That statement turned out to be inaccurate and there was rioting in the streets.

Fear not, the IPCC have learned from their mistakes in the past, they won’t do that again.

Instead they announced with indecent haste that a ‘homicide’ investigation was under way.  Before you all shout at me, I know that is standard practice, but it’s the wording that seems to have changed.  I don’t recall an emphasis on the word ‘homicide’ and all its negative connotations before.

Then last night we had, what I consider to be, the shocking sight of Cindy Butts, IPCC commissioner,  told a public meeting that the officer who shot the suspect had been arrested and interviewed under criminal caution just that very afternoon. The IPCC declined to say what the officer had been arrested for.
Butts stressed the arrest did not mean the officer would be charged.

Ms Butts told the meeting that no relevant CCTV footage had been identified. Officers were not wearing body cameras, which drew repeated criticism from the meeting and shouts of “Why?”
She told the meeting, which was attended by more than 200 people, of the events leading up to the decision to arrest the officer.

All in all it seems like a statement to the public aimed solely at getting the local population “on side”

It’s almost as if somebody within IPCC Halls decided that after mishandling the Duggan Press Release, “we won’t do that again, and who cares about the rights of the officer.  The Police won’t riot in the streets but the local populace might and we can’t have that can we?”

Elsewhere on Social Media I saw at least one Custody Officer state that in his opinion the arrest of the officer amounted to Unlawful Arrest and Detention due to the apparent lack of necessity under Code G, which states;

A lawful arrest requires two elements:

A person’s involvement or suspected involvement or attempted involvement in the commission of a criminal offence;

AND

Reasonable grounds for believing that the person’s arrest is necessary.
• both elements must be satisfied, and
• it can never be necessary to arrest a person unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect them of committing an offence.

As I said previously, I have no idea what the evidence and necessity amount to but I seriously hope that this officer has not become Collateral Damage in the IPCC’s laughable quest to demonstrate that they are ‘Independent’, a claim that few serving or retired officers believe. 

Surely they would have been better advised to say nothing at all until all the facts have been established.

The Coroner hasn’t delivered a verdict yet.

I sincerely doubt that all the evidence has yet been gathered and assessed.

Contrary to the beliefs of at least one Tweeter last night I have no problem with the the officer being investigated, but he/she is entitled to the same regard for the law as anybody else.  If there is EVIDENCE that the officer knowingly did something wrong then he/she is clearly accountable for that, but sadly, it seems that the IPCC are going to hang him/her out to dry in a feeble attempt to placate the rioting few.

I will not be surprised if officers up and down the country are wueueing up this morning to hand in their Firearms ‘Tickets’, as they can no longer rely on any form of protection when things go wrong, and they will, no firearmsoperation is ever guaranteed to go without hiccup as the reactions of third parties are never KNOWN in advance.

Cindy Butts, I give hou 0/10 for your attempt at a Press Conference last night, must try harder.

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