Shooting report reveals glaring failures in Met's operation
Ian Blair's command under the microscope
Analysis The UK Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has released the "Stockwell One" report of its investigation into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes by armed Metropolitan Police officers in 2005.
Releasing the report, Nick Hardwick - chairman of the IPCC - made several comments to reporters, giving the IPCC's view of the matter. Until completion of the recent trial of the Met under health and safety laws, the complaints investigators could not speak freely.
"It has been suggested that the ordinary law... should not apply to the police service, and that this trial will make it more difficult for the police to catch real terrorists," said Hardwick, presumably referring to London Mayor Ken Livingstone's remarks to that effect.
Hardwick dealt with Mayor Ken's position bluntly.
"That is the wrong road," he said. "The defining feature of the police in this country is that the law applies to them individually and as a service just as it does to every other citizen and organisation. This case is not about creating a more risk-averse police service but a more coherent and effective police response."
The IPCC chief went on to set the scene.
"There are two very stark images from the now infamous CCTV coverage of Stockwell Station," he said.
"The first is of Jean Charles de Menezes entering the station, wearing light summer clothing, picking up a paper and going to get his train.
"The second, just over a minute later, shows police officers running down into the depths of the station, into what I am sure they believed was deadly peril, the first passengers... hurrying to escape in the other direction.
"Neither Mr de Menezes nor the police officers are diminished by us remembering the tragedy of one and the heroism of others on that day."
Mr Hardwick went on to say that the essential questions around Stockwell were these:
"If they thought he might have a bomb, why was he allowed twice to get on a bus and then on the tube?"
"If they thought he didn't have a bomb, why did they shoot him?"
Which seems incapable of improvement. He went on to say that the Met had suffered from multiple operational failures on the day of the shooting, which are detailed in the full report.
Hardwick also directly criticised London's top cop, Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, for his actions in the aftermath of de Menezes' death.
"The Commissioner [Blair] attempted to prevent us carrying out an investigation. In my view, much of the avoidable difficulty the Stockwell incident has caused the Metropolitan Police arose from the delay [in the IPCC being tasked]."
He also offered oblique criticism of Blair's decision not to plead guilty on behalf of the Met in the recent trial.
"To achieve public confidence... it has been necessary for the Metropolitan Police to accept that mistakes were made," he said.
"I think the defence the Metropolitan Police adopted at the health and safety trial may have created some confusion in the public mind about their willingness to do this."
However, Hardwick said that as a practical matter the Met had in fact accepted that it had cocked up, and that its officers had worked hard to do better in future.
The full report (170-page pdf) is now online. It makes interesting reading, and will be the first chance for many to get close to the facts of Stockwell without an intervening media or political agenda.
For those willing to put up with the Reg agenda, here are a few of the bits we found interesting.
We've a follow-up piece for publication on Sunday that, among other things, considers the question of how someone obviously not carrying a bomb was not ruled out as a suspect.
I'll repeat this 'till I'm blue in the face: it was OBVIOUS to anyone that had sight of De Menezes that he was NOT in posession of an explosive device! He should have been apprehended within seconds of leaving the address and "eliminated from enquiries" instead of "eliminated" full-stop.
@ AC; Deadman's switches...
< ""...then you're saying "allow anyone with a bomb to reach their planned high impact target without attempting to stop them."" >
Well, considering that de Menzies *did* reach a high-density target location without an attempted stop... At that point, doing *anything* would be better than noting but frankly, it was a dog's breakfast almost from the word 'Go.'
Intelligence's failure to correctly ID the right man...
Command divorced from the action...
Command dependent upon unreliable information streams...
Command's incompetence in the organizing all required operational elements before-hand...
Command's inability or unwillingness to change the plan when reality intervened...
Officers' incompetence in interpreting de Menzies' actions...
Officers' incompetence in reporting de Menzies' actions...
I could go on, but frankly, the list would get out of control. Commander Dick is incompetent to the responsibility that was assigned her. That's not her fault - mostly - that's her *superiors'* fault. Mind you, she should've known she was in over her head, but that's often a tough analysis when 'on the spot.' Likewise, I'm appalled at the lackadaisical attitude of CO19. Muster up hours late, and then rush to the scene? That's what Keystone Kops do, and not at all what one would expect of trained professionals with the responsibility for life and death in their hands. The supervisors responsible for CO19's response should all be summarily sacked, and all rank-n-file officers in the unit retrained to some more reasonable level of responsibility and urgency.
Blair, though? His scrofulent, feculent behavior demands a highly public sacking and humiliation, if not jail time for obstruction of justice and abuse of office.
IRT Dead-men’s Switches:
It’s not at all uncommon for suicide bombers to have a ‘shadow’ whom is responsible for remotely detonating the bomb if the primary bomber balks, is stopped, or is disabled*. Simply killing the bomber, head shot or otherwise, is unlikely to be a guarantee of anything except the bomber dies first. If the head shots work, great! But don’t count on them being a pancea. Remember that committed suicide bombers are not particularly rational, and will have a bomb of unknown quality, construction, capacity, and detonation mode(s). Going after such is never going to be a ‘cookbook’ operation, though the Met seems to have done exactly that – gone by a cookbook with de Menzies. Even then, they botched the recipe.
*Indeed, some bombers aren’t bombers at all, in their intention. Some are couriers whom think they’re delivering a package for their cell, but the package is lethal. When the courier reaches a suitable location, the shadow detonates the package.