Yard shake-up in wake of shooting

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The Independent Online

Briefings given to Metropolitan Police firearms teams are now routinely tape-recorded for use in an investigation if an operation goes wrong. The ruling is part of a raft of "profound" changes to the way Britain's biggest police force operates imposed in the wake of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Scotland Yard has already put in place 16 recommendations from the watchdog in an attempt to prevent a repetition of the shooting by officers from the elite CO19 firearms unit when Mr de Menezes was mistaken for the would-be suicide bomber Hussein Osman, one of a gang of four who failed to set off devices on the capital's transport network the day before.

The reforms include "improved accountability" by formally logging all decisions made by top officers during major incidents, closer working between undercover surveillance teams and armed units as well as better training for senior commanders and improved facilities in the Yard's control room to ensure commanders receive accurate information as quickly as possible.

Documents seen by The Independent show that changes brought in by the Yard also include a new system for classifying the level of certainty with which surveillance teams have identified a suspect. There are now three levels of identification "to provide clarity for commanding officers".

An inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in September concluded that "learning has been profound and has been developed and implemented in various ways".

But campaigners for the family of Mr de Menezes said issues including the policy which led to firearms officers firing directly into the Brazilian's head were unresolved. A spokeswoman for the Justice4Jean campaign said: "There was a shoot-to-kill policy deployed against Jean and yet it has not been the subject of parliamentary scrutiny. Justice has not been seen to be done in this case. There must be individual accountability and those responsible for Jean's death must be held to account."