Officers will not carry guns ‘if they are going to be treated as suspects’, police chief warns

A police chief has warned more than half of all armed officers could refuse to carry guns if they are prevented them from conferring over statements.

Commander Neil Basu, head of armed policing at Scotland Yard, said proposals by the Independent Police Complaints Commission aimed at eliminating collusion over statements left officers feeling ‘criminalised’.

He warned officers would withdraw their co-operation from IPCC investigations and give no comment interviews.

The IPCC is consulting on preventing officers from talking to each other before writing up their statements, and would have to complete them before going off duty. Currently they are given 48 hours to recover.

Critics, including the High Court, have warned that officers sitting together to write up statements of incidents presents an opportunity for collusion. But the police say it only covers the lead up to the use of force.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Basu said: “I think there is a very serious risk that officers will no longer volunteer for the role [of armed policing].”

He said between 50 and 65 per cent of officers would decide not to carry a weapon anymore.

“No amount of fantastic Churchillian leadership from me is going to make an officer want contribute to an inquiry where they are being made the suspect,” he added. “They will be legally advised to say no comment. Why wouldn’t they knowing the slightest mistake they make… and they are facing a murder charge for doing their job.”

Moir Stewart, the IPCC’s director of investigations, said separating officers where practical gave the public greater reassurance.

The watchdog announced its proposal following the inquiry into the shooting of Mark Duggan. 

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