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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in Blackpool

Negotiable: Randstad Education Preston: Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in B...

*****English/Maths Teacher*****

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Preston: English/Maths Teacher require...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Assistant and Nursery nurse...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  

Oscar Pistorius sentence: Judge Masipa might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice

Chris Maume
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album