November 5th, 2007 07:26 EST
UK: MPA and ACPO on Health and Safety verdict
Statement by Len Duvall Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority following Health and Safety trial verdict
Len Duvall, Chair of the MPA, responding to the Health and Safety trial verdict said:
"We must remember an innocent man died during the course of a Met police operation - this is damning enough. Our thoughts continue to be with the Menezes family and friends, together with those of the other victims.
"The events of that day highlighted operational and communication processes which proved to be inadequate when Londoners lives were put under threat of terrorist attacks. We need to remember that there were a number of simultaneous police operations during that time that were successful but the Authority is determined to minimise the possibility of such a tragic event happening again.
"Over the past two and a half years the Authority has worked hard with the Met to carry out root and branch examinations of operational policing systems, internal and external communication procedures, as well as Operation Kratos, the national policing response to suicide terrorists.
"Now the trial has concluded the MPA itself will review the responses of the MPS to Stockwell 1, as yet unpublished, and issues relating to Stockwell 2, published on 2 August 2007.
"It makes no sense now the trial has finished that the Stockwell 1 report remains secret and the Authority has urged the IPCC to publish as soon as possible. Until this happens it is not possible to have a transparent and frank public debate about vital issues for policing and public safety, and the potential for misinformation and misunderstanding will continue. It is in both the public and the de Menezes family interest for the report to be in the open.
"The police are not above the law but the MPA have always had reservations about whether bringing a case against the MPS for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 was the most appropriate course to take. The Authority, along with the MPS, will need to look at the judgement very carefully.
"The case was brought against the Metropolitan Police Service, not against the Commissioner personally or any other officer. Matters relating to individuals are being dealt with by the MPA Professional Standards and Complaints committee, and hopefully will be resolved in the near future.
"The MPA fully supports the Commissioner and will continue to work with him, his management team and all MPS staff to achieve high quality policing so that everyone in London can gain and retain confidence in the Met.
"Policing in London is a tough business - it is the Authority's job is to deliver a fit for purpose, efficient and effective police service. We ask the police to do a difficult job on our behalf and sometimes they make mistakes. This case led to the tragic death of an innocent man. Our ultimate aim is to make sure we all learn from this tragedy."
Association of Chief Police Officers response to Stockwell verdict
ACPO President Ken Jones, said:
"The death of Jean Charles de Menezes was a tragedy. ACPO shares in the regret that the Metropolitan Police Service extended to the de Menezes family.
"We support the MPS and the Commissioner, it is important to emphasise that the nature of the threats that we face are increasingly complex in their nature. Our priority as a police service is to ensure the safety of the public. The vast majority of operations undertaken are concluded successfully.
"In considering this judgment we should not lose sight of the heavy burden which falls on the police to weigh risks and take decisions, often under extreme pressure and in difficult circumstances, in order to carry out their work effectively. While the service does not shy away from public scrutiny, during counter-terrorism operations, situations will inevitable arise whereby legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 is a wholly inappropriate standard against which police actions should be judged. This is especially true where intelligence-led activity is involved.
"If the legal apparatus available is not sufficient or appropriate to deal with cases in such situations, then ACPO will be required to consider whether a wider debate should follow on a possible change in the law. The objective should be to ensure that the police should remain accountable to the public they serve, while empowered to protect that same public to the very best of their ability."
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