Metropolitan Police Service officer has a case to answer for misconduct after failing to circulate CCTV images following acid attack

1 Jun 2020 02:59 PM

A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer who failed to circulate a CCTV image of a suspect in an acid attack for 20 months has a case to answer for misconduct following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

We launched an investigation in November 2018 following a referral from the MPS concerning the conduct of a detective constable.

In March 2017 a member of the public was seriously injured after she was innocently caught in the midst of an acid attack at a cinema in Ealing, west London. The woman suffered significant leg injuries. The DC was allocated to the investigation and obtained CCTV images of the incident the following day. The officer updated the crime report that the images would be circulated via an internal database when he was next on duty.

It was not until 8 November 2018 that the CCTV images were circulated to the internal database for identification. The following day the suspect was identified as Xeneral Webster.

During those 20 months Webster, also known as Imiuru, had been arrested and imprisoned for the manslaughter of Joanne Rand in another acid attack three months after the Ealing incident.

Mrs Rand was another innocent bystander tragically caught in the middle of an argument between Webster and another man in High Wycombe in June 2017. Webster doused Mrs Rand in acid intended for the other man and she subsequently died from her injuries.

Our investigation examined the officer’s handling of the investigation and whether it was in line with MPS’ policies and procedures and what reason there was for any delay in submitting the CCTV images. The IOPC also looked at the actions of a number of supervisors due to the indication that they had failed to adequately supervise the investigation to ensure circulation of the CCTV was conducted.

We obtained witness statements, conducted interviews, and gathered and analysed MPS policies and procedures.

In February we concluded our investigation and passed our report and its findings to the MPS. The MPS agreed with us that the DC had a case to answer for misconduct for breaching the standards of professional behaviour in respect of duties and responsibilities, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct. The MPS will now arrange for disciplinary proceedings to take place.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem yesterday said:

“Our investigation began against a backdrop of an escalation in acid attacks in London. The consequences of such attacks are devastating, and my sympathies are with the family and friends of Joanne Rand because the circumstances surrounding her death are truly tragic.

“Having assessed all of the evidence we concluded the failure on the part of the Detective Constable to circulate the CCTV image was not intentional or deliberate, however it was entirely avoidable. The officer had an opportunity in April 2017 to circulate the CCTV but this did not happen.

“We passed our report and its findings to the Metropolitan Police Service who agreed with us that the officer had a case to answer for misconduct. They will now arrange for a misconduct meeting to take place during which the evidence will be assessed.”

 Due to the ongoing circumstances as a result of the pandemic, publication of our findings was delayed.