(MAC0011)

 

Written evidence submitted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (MAC0011)

 

 

Re: Macpherson 21 Years On evidence session on 17 June 2020

  1. I heard with interest the evidence session on 17 June in which Professor Ben Bowling, Rosalind Comyn, Katrina Ffrench, Mirren Gidda, and Nick Glynn gave evidence. There were a number of interesting points and issues raised to the Committee that I felt the IOPC could provide further information/clarification on.

 

Cases raised to the Committee:

 

  1. Many of the participants raised cases that have already received some level of scrutiny from the IOPC.  Aside from the cases of Rashan Charles and Sean Rigg, which have been well publicised, the following matters were mentioned:
  2. The Tasering of a 62 year old man at the top of a flight of stairs by the Metropolitan Police Service.  The incident involving Mr Millard Scott was subject to the power of initiative on 10 June. This means the IOPC treated the matter as referred and required information from the Metropolitan Police Service to inform its decision making. The IOPC is assessing the mode of investigation in this matter.

 

  1. The independent investigation into the Tasering of Mr Mombeyarara on a petrol station forecourt in Salford by GMP on Wednesday 6 May. Our investigation into this matter is ongoing. 

 

  1. Investigation into the Tasering of a man in Haringey, in which a man sustained significant life changing injuries. The IOPC received a mandatory death or serious injury referral from the MPS on 4 May 2020. The IOPC is criminally investigating an officer on suspicion of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. Our investigation is ongoing.

 

  1. Kevin Clarke. The IOPC received a mandatory referral following the death of Mr Clarke on 9 March 2018.  The IOPC carried out an independent investigation, which was completed in May 2019.  The Coroner’s inquest in this matter is yet to take place. The IOPC will publish its findings following conclusion of the Coroner’s inquest.
  2. As you can see from the above, we are taking a positive approach in this area given the level of community concern. In addition, we have taken a number of other cases on in relation to taser and other use of force. As an example of some of the issues we are examining, I enclose a copy of our press release from 28 May relating to investigations in Birmingham as annex 1 for your information.

 

Disproportionality in relation to the use of Taser

  1. I was also interested to hear the views of the panel regarding the use of Taser. The IOPC has been concerned for some time that the increased use of Taser is leading to increased community concern and does not carry public confidence. As you will see from the above, we are independently investigating a number of incidents involving the use of Taser at this time. This led to us calling for greater scrutiny regarding the use of Taser and we issued the press release contained at annex 2 on

14 May.1 This press release received good coverage across all national newspapers.

 

  1. I am pleased to hear that the NPCC have now commissioned an independent national review of Taser use. I have also been approached by a number of forces and am meeting with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners working group around race disparity and disproportionality to discuss their work in this area.

 

  1. More widely, I recently wrote an Op Ed piece for the Independent newspaper highlighting issues of disproportionality in British Policing affecting ethnic minorities.  For information, the article can be found here.

 

Circumstances in which a complaint can be raised regarding a stop and search

 

  1. In response to question number 43, in which the Chair requested further comments, Katrina Ffrench raised concerns regarding access to stop and search forms.  As part of her answer, Ms Ffrench indicated that the stop and search form was required in order to complain about a stop and search encounter.  I would like to make clear that this is not the case. Any member of the public[1] who is dissatisfied with a stop and search encounter can complain to the police, whether or not they have been provided with a form.  The failure to provide adequate documentation could form part of the complaint. I wrote to Ms Ffrench on 13 May offering to meet with her and will be happy to raise this point with her.

 

1 https://policeconduct.gov.uk/news/iopc-calls-greater-scrutiny-taser-use-following-increasingconcerns

 

Learning Recommendation regarding the inclusion of use of force information on stop and search forms

 

  1. In response to question 39 from Stuart McDonald MP, Ms Ffrench highlighted concerns relating to the difficulties stop and search scrutiny panels have in knowing whether or not force was used during a stop and search encounter.  I thought the panel might be interested to know one of the learning recommendations the IOPC made to Bedfordshire Police on 2 April 2020 concerned this issue:

 

  1. “The IOPC recommends that Bedfordshire Police amend their stop and search record slips to include a question about whether force has been used. The slips should also state where information about the type of force will be recorded.  During this stop and search, a young, black man, was restrained in a public area using handcuffs and PAVA. Both police officers filled out stop and search and use of force forms and both failed to record that PAVA had been used during the encounter. This omission came to light as part of our investigation.  Recording whether force has been used on the stop and search record will improve both transparency and accountability. The person being stopped and searched can immediately challenge any omissions. Additionally, by capturing use of force on stop and search records, it will be easier to monitor and address any trends in the use of force during stop and searches.”

 

  1. We are currently awaiting the statutory response to this recommendation from Bedfordshire Police. 

 

  1. Additionally, the IOPC is currently considering thematic learning in relation to a number of stop and search investigations carried out in London and we will publish as soon as we can. I will ensure that a copy of this is forwarded to the Committee. 

 

  1. I hope that this information is of assistance to the Committee in its consideration of these matters. As always, if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

June 2020

             

Annex 1

 

IOPC reassures communities over police use of force investigations in West Midlands

 

The West Midlands Regional Director for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has moved to reassure local communities over their concerns about the police use of force on black men following several recent incidents.  

Derrick Campbell said the IOPC was looking into complaints about incidents in Birmingham and several associated referrals from West Midlands Police regarding the alleged conduct of officers.

Mr Campbell said: “We are now looking at nine investigations connected to alleged excessive use of force on black men following six separate incidents in the Birmingham area since February.

“Footage from some of these incidents was circulated via social media and the mainstream media, and I have personally called in some of these matters for investigation using my powers under the Police Reform Act after concerns were raised with me by the community.

“I would like to reassure communities in the West Midlands that full, fair and thorough independent investigations are under way into all of these incidents and the conduct matters brought to our attention by the force. That is our role.

“I am also conscious that we do not pre-empt the outcome of these investigations. Our inquiries are looking at all the circumstances and whether the use of force by officers was justified and proportionate in each of these instances. We are also looking into complaints that police allegedly acted in a discriminatory manner towards some of the men involved.”

Mr Campbell acknowledged that the use of force is an essential tool in helping officers respond to often dangerous and challenging situations but stressed it must be reasonable, appropriate and proportionate.

“I am fully aware of the impact these incidents can have on public confidence in policing and again reiterate that we will look at these matters thoroughly and fairly. I would also stress that West Midlands Police force is co-operating fully with us.”

As well as continuing to speak with community leaders, Mr Campbell said he had also written to the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to consult over providing local oversight on use of force so community concerns could be addressed.

Over the past month the IOPC has begun nine investigations connected to alleged excessive use of force on black men following six separate incidents.

Four of those incidents involve alleged use of force by one officer who has been suspended by West Midlands Police. Two of the new investigations are scrutinising the actions of officers who were in supervisory roles when those incidents took place.

The six incidents being investigated over excessive use of force allegations involve:

                      The use of Taser on a man at Handsworth on 27 February

                      Arrest of a man riding a bicycle in Frederick Road, Birmingham, on 20 April

                      The stop and search of a 15-year-old boy at Newtown on 21 April

                      Detention of a man stopped in the street at Handsworth on 23 April

                      Use of force on a man, including deployment of Taser, following a foot chase at Winson Green on 4 May

                      Fractured ankle sustained by a man arrested at Digbeth on 14 May

 

 


Annex 2.

 

IOPC calls for greater scrutiny of Taser use following increasing concerns 14 May 2020

 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today called for greater scrutiny on use of Taser following a series of incidents and increasing community concerns in recent months.

Director General Michael Lockwood said the IOPC was aware of concerns from a broad range of stakeholders about disproportionate use of Taser against black people and those with mental ill health.

“The IOPC recognises that the use of Taser is important in helping officers respond to often dangerous and challenging situations. However, more officers are now carrying Taser and there are growing concerns both locally and nationally about its disproportionate use against black men and those with mental health issues.

“Robust oversight of cases involving Taser is essential for maintaining public confidence in the police use of this kind of force. We need transparency around how and when it is used, and a visible demonstration that police forces are learning from their experiences of using it.

“While the IOPC has a role to investigate the most serious matters involving Taser, Police and Crime Commissioners also have an important role in providing community assurance about scrutiny of Taser use.”

Mr Lockwood said while the IOPC was investigating several incidents in London,

Manchester and the West Midlands in recent weeks, he had also written to the

Deputy Mayors for Policing and Crime and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner seeking assurance on how they are providing appropriate scrutiny of Taser use at a local level.

“These incidents are being independently investigated by the IOPC and we will seek to understand what happened and whether there are lessons to be learnt. While we can’t comment on the appropriateness of the Taser use in these cases until we’ve completed our investigations, I want to reassure those communities that we take these matters very seriously and will be thorough and impartial in looking at what happened.

“However, I remain concerned that these incidents have caused damage to police and community relations and are impacting on public confidence in police. There must be more research to understand issues of disproportionality as well as assurance and scrutiny of Taser use at a local level – this means oversight, looking at complaints, talking to community members and reviewing this not just when something goes wrong, but 365 days a year.  I am urging Deputy Mayors for Policing and Crime, Police and Crime Commissioners and the wider police service to listen and respond to the concerns being raised.

“These incidents have only come to our attention because of the level of injury sustained or via social media. Given the number of times Tasers are deployed, there may be other incidents which are not being scrutinised.”

In the weeks ahead, the IOPC will be talking with community stakeholders, advocacy organisations, PCCs and police forces to understand the different concerns and identify whether further work is needed in this area.

Several recent Taser incidents are under independent investigation or are currently being assessed by the IOPC, including:

                      An independent investigation into contact the Metropolitan Police Service

(MPS) had with a man before he suffered a life-changing injury in Haringey, north London on Monday 4 May 2020. A man in his 20s was Tasered as he jumped over a wall and has now been assessed as having suffered a life-changing injury.               An independent investigation into Greater Manchester Police involvement in an incident in Stretford on Wednesday 6 May at around 11pm in which an officer used a Taser on a suspect outside a petrol station, with the man’s child present nearby.

                      An incident on 6 May where a man was stopped in Southwark (London) for a drugs search and was red dotted with a Taser. A video was widely shared on social media.

                      We are also looking at a matter involving West Midlands Police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Providing they satisfy the criteria of an eligible complainant as outlined in the Police Reform Act 2002