IOPC Welcomes W80 decision
9 Oct 2020 04:26 PM
Today’s decision from the Court is welcome and provides clarity on an important principle of policing. Throughout this process we must not lose sight of the impact of Mr Baker’s death on his family, or on the police officers involved.
This case relates to the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker in December 2015, by an officer known for legal reasons as W80.
We investigated Mr Baker’s death and the officer involved was criminally interviewed by our investigators. A file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who decided not to bring any criminal charges.
We decided there was a case to answer in disciplinary proceedings, however the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) disagreed and we directed them to hold gross misconduct proceedings.
Our direction was successfully challenged in the Divisional Court and we appealed the decision as we did not believe this to be right, and felt the judgment had wider implications for police accountability relating to all forms of force.
Today’s judgment provides clarity on this with the court summary stating:
It was wrong to say that there could be no misconduct wherever an officer used proportionate force based on an honest belief that he was in danger. If the officer made an honest mistake, the disciplinary panel must still determine whether the use of force was reasonable in all the circumstances. In many cases, an honest mistake is also likely to be found to have been reasonable in all the circumstances, but there will be some cases where it will not.
A summary and full copy of the decision can be found at https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/rw80-v-director-general-of-the-independent-office-for-police-conduct/
IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said:
“This is an important legal decision for maintaining public trust and confidence in a system which ensures police are accountable for upholding the standards of professional behaviour.
“Police officers have a difficult job, work in extraordinary circumstances and make difficult decisions in challenging situations. We recognise that use of force is a key tool in policing and that police have been entrusted with the power to use force in a range of circumstances. In return, the public must be assured that this power will always be exercised responsibly, reasonably and proportionately.
“The examination of serious incidents such as this in a disciplinary hearing ensures transparency and public scrutiny of the circumstances. This principle of police being accountable for their actions is fundamental to policing by consent.
“Today’s decision provides that confirmation and reassurance to the public."