Met Police admits failing to review Duggan stop tactic

The BBC's Danny Shaw explains how police conduct a 'hard stop'

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The Metropolitan Police says it was wrong not to formally review the "hard stop" tactic six years before it was used in the Mark Duggan shooting.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission recommended a review in 2005, calling such stops "high-risk".

The force says it is "constantly looking at the tactic".

Meanwhile, officers from the unit that killed Mr Duggan told BBC Panorama they would kill again if they thought their colleagues were about to die.

The hard stop tactic - called an "enforced stop" by police - is a pre-planned operation during which armed, plain-clothed officers in police vehicles deliberately intercept a vehicle to confront suspects.

It has resulted in two controversial fatal shootings by the Met; Mr Duggan in 2011 and the unlawful killing of suspected drug dealer Azelle Rodney in 2005.

Start Quote

All the training in the world will not prepare you for dealing with having to kill someone. It's absolutely horrendous”

End Quote Firearms unit police officer

It was also used in the case of Anthony Grainger, who was unarmed when he was shot by police in Manchester in 2012.

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, is to be prosecuted on health and safety grounds over the death of Mr Grainger. But the officer who shot him will not face any charges.

Mr Duggan was shot during a hard stop in August 2011 in Tottenham, north London, sparking riots across England.

An inquest jury concluded by a majority of eight to two that he was lawfully killed by police who shot him after surrounding the minicab he was travelling in after collecting a gun.

Mr Duggan's family have said he was "executed" and pledged to fight for justice.

'High-risk option'

A private recommendation which was left out of the official IPCC report to the Met following the shooting of Mr Rodney described hard stops as a "high-risk option", especially for suspects.

The recommendation said: "If their compliance and surrender is not virtually instantaneous… the risks to the suspect are considerable."

The IPCC has a statutory obligation to investigate all fatal police shootings, but it does not have enforcement powers and can only offer advice.

IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said there was a "legitimate question" to be asked over why the Met did not act on its recommendation to review the hard stop tactic.

The Met said hard stops were used hundreds of times each year against the "most dangerous of armed criminals" and operations were carefully planned to minimise risk.

"The alternative to using this tactic is to allow highly dangerous criminals who get into cars with guns intent on committing harm to carry out the crime, only investigating it afterwards, with potentially catastrophic consequences for their target," the force said in a statement.

But it admitted it was "wrong" not to formally review the tactic following the IPCC's 2005 recommendation to do so.

It said an "interim review" had been completed by the College of Policing since the inquiry into the death of Mr Rodney, and it would now work with the college to see if there were "any alternative or better tactics available in Europe or the rest of the world".

'Better ideas'
Met Assistant Commissioner, Mark Rowley Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said critics of hard stops should suggest "better ideas"

Speaking to Panorama about the Met's response, Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: "Perhaps some formal paperwork and formal thinking should have been done at the time. It wasn't, but we're constantly looking at the tactic.

"If anyone has a better idea on how you confront armed criminals in vehicles with a view to arresting them safely and seizing their weapons then we're up for better ideas.

"People say review, people don't come forward with better ideas."

No significant changes to how the Met was carrying out hard stops had been made by the time Mr Duggan was killed in 2011.

Deborah Coles, director of charity Inquest, which advises bereaved people facing an inquest, said: "I think the key ingredients in these cases have been the most confrontational and aggressive form of response that has too often been disproportionate to the risk posed and has also placed the public at potential risk."

'About to die'

BBC Panorama has exclusively spoken to two police officers from the unit that killed Mr Duggan.

While they were not involved in his shooting, both officers have killed armed suspects before.

The shootings they carried out were later ruled to have been justified but they faced months of investigation.

One officer said: "I killed someone because I thought my colleagues and I were about to die.

"It's extremely difficult, especially when you think that you're doing the right thing and you're being trained to do something to protect the public and protect your colleagues... you then face the potential of prosecution."

He also said if the situation was "exactly the same" he would do it again.

The second officer said: "All the training in the world will not prepare you for dealing with having to kill someone. It's absolutely horrendous."

As part of the Met Police's most elite firearms unit, both officers are trained in the hard stop tactic.

Panorama: Shooting to Kill? BBC One, Monday 20 January at 20:30 GMT and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

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