We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Comment: voluntary withdrawal

It would be a mistake to think the anger and concern being displayed by firearms officers over the murder charge now faced by one of their colleagues stems from that incident alone.

The recent handing in of firearms tickets is not unprecedented but it has been a long time coming. It also reflects a wider anxiety within the ranks that the loudest sections of ‘the court of public opinion’ are making it impossible for officers engaged at ‘the sharp end’ to do the job they were trained for. It is also rather ironic that at a time when the Federation is actively considering seeking industrial rights, armed officers can exercise the choice to stop their role without fear of re-vetting, or any other machinations. They volunteer  - no officer in the UK can be told to carry a firearm ‘or else.’

This latest case also has to be considered in the context of the ongoing tribulations of officer W80 who shot dead a man involved in a prisoner escape more than 10 years ago. The Supreme Court has now ruled that the civil law test should apply for disciplinary proceedings for use of force in self-defence cases, following an appeal that officer W80 had brought against the IOPC. 

It means that officers cannot rely on “unreasonable mistakes” when seeking to justify their use of force.

The core appeal case had centred around whether the criminal test or civil test should apply in disciplinary proceedings for use of force in self-defence.

The difference is that the criminal law test allows for a mistaken but honestly held belief, even if the belief was unreasonable. The civil law test requires the honestly held belief to be reasonable.

W80 had shot Jermaine Baker in Wood Green in December 2015 during a planned intelligence-led police operation to stop an organised criminal gang breaking a dangerous criminal, convicted of firearms offences, out of prison.

Those who took part in that plot, who were with Mr. Baker that morning, were sentenced to more than 30 years in prison in June 2016.

In June 2017 the CPS decided there was insufficient evidence to bring any criminal proceedings against W80. A public inquiry report in July 2022 determined that Mr Baker was lawfully killed

Firearms officer W80 who is still serving, has spent the last 13 years of their career with that incident casting a long shadow while the series of inquiries and investigations, inquests and legal rulings run their course. The IOPC has refused to back down as the various rulings have come in  - some favourable to their argument others not favourable – presumably because it thinks this is an important point of law that it must win.

In this latest case there was even a suggestion, as the firearms officer was charged last week following an investigation by the IOPC, that they would not be granted anonymity in the court proceedings  -  a practice long established with AFO witnesses being identified by number only and allowed to give evidence from behind  screens. Happily that has not happened to date but It was not always so. Us older members of the police reporting beat will remember a firearms officer who was involved in a number of fatal shootings during planned intelligence-based intercepts of armed robberies. Having been identified by name and rank rapid measures had to be taken to protect the officer and his family from possible criminal reprisals.

Sir Mark Rowley’s focus appears to have shifted in recent weeks in order to highlight more strongly the barriers that officers face - operational and judicial  - and the role of agencies outside policing in that process. This may become a tipping point with senior figures inside and outside the service sensing an ill wind.    

Leave a Comment
View Comments 5
In Other News
PSNI assist the Met during another weekend of London protest
'Elitism' associated with CTSPOs not helping recruitment
Met rejects IOPC request for outside force to hold W80 misconduct
More News