Media Media releases INQUEST responds to Met and Home Secretary comments on police accountability 25 September 2023 Last week it was announced that a rare step has been taken to bring murder charges against the Metropolitan Police firearms officer who fatally shot Chris Kaba. Since then, comments have been made by the Home Secretary Suella Braverman and subsequently the Metropolitan Police Commissioner on the police accountability system. Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “Police cannot be judge, jury and executioner and must not be above the law. Already we know that accountability for officers involved in wrongdoing and deaths is exceedingly rare. Mark Rowley’s asks to the Home Secretary, including overturning two recent Supreme Court judgements, would make accountability for police use of force virtually impossible. Effectively giving firearms officers a licence to kill. That cannot be in the public interest. INQUEST and the bereaved families we work with know that the current lack of accountability exists despite clear evidence of disproportionate, dangerous and unnecessary use of force in many cases. In calling for a review, the Home Secretary seems to have forgotten the Casey Review published in March, which laid bare the uniquely toxic culture within the firearms unit in the Met. Addressing this should be the priority for the Home Secretary and the Commissioner.” ENDS NOTES TO EDITORSContact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected] The family of Chris Kaba will not be giving interviews at this time. Chris Kaba, 24, was fatally shot by a firearms officer from the Metropolitan Police on 5 September 2022 in Streatham, London. He was an unarmed Black man. Prosecutions: Since 1990, there have been 1,871 deaths in or following police custody or contact in England and Wales, as recorded by INQUEST. In that time, there has only been one successful prosecution of a police officer for manslaughter in 2021, and none for murder. There have been ten other murder and manslaughter charges against police officers following deaths, which did not result in successful prosecutions. Both successful and unsuccessful prosecutions have also been brought following deaths in police contact under Health and Safety legislation. Other criminal charges against officers, such as perjury and misconduct in public office, have been brought following deaths in custody, but most have led to acquittals or not guilty verdicts. Legal cases: The letter from Mark Rowley refers to two recent Supreme Court cases which confirmed the legal standard of proof in certain cases involving deaths in custody. In July 2023, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from the officer known as W80, who fatally shot Jermaine Baker, and ruled that the civil law test on the use of force applies to police conduct decisions. See the media release. In November 2020, the Supreme Court decided that the standard of proof for all conclusions at an inquest, including unlawful killing and suicide, is the balance of probabilities. See the media release. Undoing these Supreme Court decisions would require a change in law, and would decrease accountability for police officers involved in deaths, as well as decrease the possibility for critical inquest or inquiry conclusions. Casey Review and firearms officers: The Baroness Casey Review, published in March 2023, outlined widespread issues with the Metropolitan Police culture and leadership. Casey recommended the Met: “Clean itself up by bringing in an independent team to run its misconduct system; introducing higher vetting standard…; tackling toxic cultures with clearer statements of standards for all and tougher enforcement of them; and disbanding and reforming ‘dark corner’ units where some of the worst behaviours have been found and officers are equipped to carry lethal firearms.” Chapter 6 of the review focused on the firearms unit of the Met in particular. Casey highlighted, “a deeply troubling, toxic culture” as well as a “widely held view in the Command and in the rest of the Met that firearms officers ‘need to be allowed’ to bend or break the rules.” This, she found, covers a catalogue of poor behaviours including, “the acceptance of insidious attitudes including misogyny, racism and ableism in the Command”.