The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has released a statement following its controversial decision to launch an investigation into two of the Metropolitan Police officers who responded to the Streatham knife attacker.
The two officers are being investigated owing to a road traffic collision which took place as the officers rushed to help their colleagues who were dealing with a male who was armed with a knife and who was stabbing members of the public.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the IOPC said:
“We are conducting an independent investigation into a road traffic incident involving a Metropolitan Police car which collided with two vehicles while responding to the terror attack in Streatham on Sunday 2nd February 2020. Two members of the public and officers sustained injuries. The members of the public were taken to hospital for checks and discharged.
“Our independent scrutiny of police actions, particularly when people are injured, is a critical part of maintaining public confidence – even if officers are responding to a major incident.
“Our assessment of the officers’ driving as potentially amounting to gross misconduct was agreed by the Metropolitan Police Service.
“A criminal investigation does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow. Misconduct notices do not imply guilt but are to inform the officer that their behaviour and conduct are under investigation and the level of severity. Such notices are not judgemental in any way.
“On Friday 28th February we served notices of investigation for dangerous driving and gross misconduct on the officer driving the vehicle involved in the collision and on the driver of a marked police vehicle which was in close proximity to the unmarked vehicle but not involved in the collision.
“This decision was not taken lightly and is based on the evidence we have seen and analysed so far. This includes in-car camera footage and GPS from both police vehicles. We have also considered a statement made by the officer involved and members of the public who witnessed the collision.
“Due to the collision, one of the police vehicles didn’t make it to the scene of the attack”.
Responding to the initial announcement of the investigation being carried out against the officers, Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said:
“The public will be appalled when they hear that brave police officers responding to a terrorist attack can be treated in such a manner.
“What kind of message does this send? These officers and their colleagues put their lives on the line that day to protect the public. Now potentially their careers are on the line. It’s absurd. A complete joke.
“Our colleagues did not know what danger they were travelling towards as the information emerged in real time about stabbings and threats of a suicide vest and explosives. Yet without hesitation they drove towards that danger. Because that’s what police officers do.
“And yet now their careers are at risk as the hindsight brigade decide to justify their existence. These people need to understand the split-second and dynamic decisions police officers have to take.”
Ken called on the IOPC and its investigators to have some “empathy and understanding of the incredibly difficult and dangerous job police officers’ undertake”.
He added: “No one is saying that police officers should not be scrutinised or that their actions should not be accountable – but the last thing officers responding to a terrorist attack should be worrying about is whether their prompt response and bravery will put their livelihoods in danger.
“I am rarely astonished, but this is truly astonishing.
“We are, of course, supporting our colleagues at this very difficult time and call on the IOPC to think again about what they are doing and what message their actions send to police officers. And importantly to the public we serve and protect.”
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