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Menezes Met trial unsatisfactory on all counts

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Perhaps it's the Birmingham force, rather than the Met, who should have been done for recklessly endangering the public. The man on the ground that day really ought to have been disciplined at the very least for failing to shoot his man repeatedly in the head, given his own account of this situation.

"In all honesty, I still don't know to this day how I did not shoot him," says the Birmingham copper.

Not good enough, mate.

But then we get onto other things the Met did - or more accurately failed to do. They didn't manage to get armed officers to de Menezes for more than four hours, despite the fact that they thought he was an identified suicide bomber. Surveillance officers - having fouled up the identification, perhaps with some involement by undercover special-forces surveillance troops who were also present - followed a man they believed to be a bomber onto crowded public transport not once, but twice, failing repeatedly to do anything; and their commanders didn't encourage them.

For some reason, the jury chose to specifically exempt Cressida Dick, the senior officer who was in command. That's their right; just as the O.J. Simpson jury had a right to make a decision. Perhaps it wasn't her fault that there weren't firearms plods for every suspect that day. But one might very well have expected her to tell the surveillance team to step in earlier, and that alone seems enough to find Dick wanting.

Anyway, busting senior commanders when in doubt is always a good idea. It encourages les autres, and in uniformed hierarchies like the Met there is never any shortage of replacements.

If being in command means anything at all, it means that it's always your fault. Certainly if you're in communication with the people on the ground, and Cressida Dick was.

The jury were wrong on that one.

Moving on up to Ian Blair, top cop of the whole Met, it seems unreasonable to blame him for the operational failures that day, except perhaps in the broadest sense - eg, why weren't there more armed teams available, etc.

But his apparent wilful mishandling of the media afterwards, his manoeuvres to try to keep the IPCC out of the investigation, his refusal to accept - by not pleading guilty in this trial - that anything had gone wrong: all of these damn him utterly.

Again, it isn't as though the man is irreplaceable. Firing Blair wouldn't impair the Met's functioning, indeed it might very well improve it. We may well be short of many categories of copper - armed response guys who know anything about bombs, surveillance guys who can tell one olive-skinned bloke from another, officers at any level who are willing to do the right thing without being told to.

We aren't short of senior police bureaucrats with apparently invulnerable political connections. We could spare one of them.®

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