David Davis comments across the papers on new guidelines which will instruct police not to confer in the hours after someone dies
As published in the Daily Mail:
Police marksmen to be banned from comparing notes in the aftermath of fatal shootings following controversy over death of Mark Duggan
Controversial practice has been repeatedly criticised amid claims it undermines public confidence in officers’ impartiality.
Police watchdog says new guidelines will instruct police not to confer in the hours after someone dies
Police marksmen are to be banned from ‘comparing notes’ in the aftermath of fatal shootings.
The controversial practice has been repeatedly criticised amid claims it undermines public confidence in their impartiality.
Questions were raised once again in the wake of the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of a Scotland Yard marksman.
Police marksmen are to be banned from ‘comparing notes’ in the aftermath of fatal shootings amid claims it undermines public confidence in their impartiality.
Now, the police watchdog says new guidelines will instruct police not to confer in the hours after someone dies or suffers a serious injury.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said officers will be kept apart until individual, detailed accounts can be taken from them.
The change of procedure will mean that officers are effectively treated in the same way as criminal suspects – something many deeply object to.
Anyone who ignores the rules will leave themselves open to accusations of misconduct and questions over their behaviour at an inquest or public inquiry.
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The Police Federation, which represents 124,000 frontline officers across England and Wales, said there is no ‘compelling reason’ to change existing procedures.
Steve Evans said: ‘We vehemently disagree with the position taken by the IPCC over the need to remove this valued and well recognised practice.’
Allowing officers to confer was first criticised after the 1999 fatal shooting of Harry Stanley by marksmen who mistook a chair leg he was carrying in a plastic bag for a shotgun.
It was thrown into the spotlight six years later after the death of Jean Charles de Menezes who was mistaken for a suicide bomber at Stockwell Tube Station.
In the wake of his death the watchdog said the ‘accepted practice’ of letting police discuss what had happened before making statements should be reviewed.
The rules were tightened after police shot dead barrister Mark Saunders during an armed siege at his home in Chelsea, South West London, in 2008.
A High Court judge declared conferring was an institutionalised ‘opportunity for collusion’ but conceded that a ban could hinder inquiries.
The decision to ban conferring altogether appears to have been spurred by the controversy around the death of Duggan in Tottenham in August 2011.
Police and the IPCC came under heavy criticism because of questions over whether the gangster was holding a weapon and how a gun came to be on the other side of a fence.
The police watchdog is still trying to speak to some officers involved in the case who so far have refused to be interviewed in person, or given conflicting accounts.
The IPCC guidance will be formally issued to forces after a 12 week consultation and approval by the Home Secretary.
At present, officers can pool their memories of what happened before making individual statements.
But the draft guidance says conferring has the ‘potential to undermine public confidence’ and should no longer take place.
It tells senior officers that police witnesses should be instructed not to communicate about the incident and they should also be kept separate.
Dame Anne Owers, who leads the IPCC, said officers must not only avoid conferring, but must give their accounts ‘promptly’ and before going off duty.
She said the ‘public rightly expects’ that those who witness a death or serious injury in a professional capacity ‘co-operate fully with an investigation’.
She added: ‘We know that the actions taken by police in the immediate aftermath of a death or serious injury have huge ramifications for our investigations, and for any subsequent proceedings.
‘The issue of conferring in particular has the potential to undermine the integrity of their evidence and to damage public confidence in the investigation.’
MP David Davis said: This is both welcome but long overdue.
There is no statutory guidance regarding the practice of officers conferring when making notes.‘It is long past time the police forces of England and Wales accepted this advice in the interest of justice and public trust.’
As published in the Hull Daily Mail:
MP says guidance for police notes ‘overdue’
East Yorks: An MP has welcomed guidance that will instruct police officers not to confer before taking notes.
Former shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the guidelines issued by the Independent Police Complaints Commission need to be introduced. Mr Davis said: “This is welcome but long overdue. There is no statutory guidance regarding the practice of officers conferring when making notes.
“It is long past time the police forces of England and Wales accepted this advice in the interest of justice and public trust.”