Too often, the Metropolitan Police are a force unto themselves. Boris must shake things up

Forcing police officers to give testimony is only the first step in clearing up the Met

Share
Related Topics

Finally, eight years after its formation, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) is to be given the power to compel police officers to testify as witnesses. You would hope that as public servants the police would want to comply with an investigation in the same way we as citizens would be expected to assist the police with their investigations. However, the admission that not one of the 31 officers present at the shooting of Mark Duggan has attended an interview as a witness underlines just how important it is for the police watchdog to have this power.

When someone is shot or killed by the police it is inevitable that community tensions will result. To avoid rumours and conspiracy theories stoking up those tensions, the community need to see that the actions of the police are subject to rigorous investigation and that the police themselves are not beyond the law. Therefore, you would assume that they would take statements of what happened immediately and ensure all evidence is collected and stored properly. You would hope supervisors and senior officers would be on hand to make sure this is all done to a high standard and procedures are followed.

The admission that a firearms officer who attended the shooting of Mark Duggan was told not to make a statement for more than three months after the event follows a depressingly familiar pattern. The fact that he and two other officers were apparently told by a supervisor – a supervisor the officer is now unable to recall – to not provide a statement immediately raises questions about the conduct of police officers following major incidents and feeds into the perception that it is one rule for the public and another for the police.

I have been told by lawyers that they very often see the exact same wording cropping up in police statements

I’ve become too familiar with stories of officers being instructed not to make a statement until they have had a chance to coordinate with their fellow officers present. The revelations in the Hillsborough report that police officers altered their statements reinforce the case for officers to provide statements immediately and independently, especially following incidents where there is a death or near death involving the police.

I have been told by lawyers who work on civil liberties cases that they very often see the exact same wording cropping up in police statements. From the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, to Ian Tomlinson to Mark Duggan we hear that officers sat down together to write their statements. While this may be the normal practice for the police, such collusion looks fishy to the public.

The case of Liam Albert shows that police secrecy is dangerous. Met Police officers refused to hand over potential photographic evidence to Surrey police officers investigating a fatal high-speed police chase. It was found at the inquest that the Met made “a material contribution” to his death. Documents submitted revealed that after the crash that led to the death of Mr Albert, Surrey Police officers tried to retrieve the mobile phone of one of the Met officers who had been pursuing him in order to see photographs which might have provided evidence of the scene. Met officers left the scene after refusing to hand over the phone and were pursued to Esher police station by Surrey officers to try to seize the phone. When the phone was handed over the photographs had been deleted. Were a member of the public with potential evidence to behave in such a way, I suspect they would be arrested for obstruction of justice.

Shocking

There is also the shocking case of Oneyeka Obi, the 16-year-old boy who was pushed through a shop window by a Met officer and then arrested for assaulting an officer. The case of Mr Obi led to his acquittal and the dismissal of another Met officer after it was found that he provided a false account of the incident to support his colleague, claiming Mr Obi’s arm had been raised at his colleague’s head. CCTV footage of the incident revealed that contrary to the officer’s statement, Mr Obi had not been acting in a threatening manner and his hands had in fact been in his pockets at the time.

Hillsborough is not a one off. While we wait for the legislation to come into force the Mayor should act immediately and lead the way. Mr Johnson should instruct the Met that officers must independently provide a statement, as swiftly as possible following an incident, to ensure an accurate account is taken while fresh in the officer’s mind. The Mayor should also instruct the Met to look into introducing disciplinary sanctions for those officers who refuse to be interviewed following an incident. The police do make mistakes and we have to cut them some slack, as they do an incredibly difficult job. However, the public will only support the police if they trust the police and this reform is a way of guaranteeing that we can.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones