Met police ignores watchdog’s call to suspend custody death probe officer
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has formally recommended to Scotland Yard that the officer who restrained Rashan Charles, whose death sparked protests in east London, should be suspended, the Observer has learned.
However the Met has so far ignored the advice from the IPCC. The officer involved in apprehending the 20-yearold from Hackney, east London, is still carrying out duties as normal.
The IPCC said on Wednesday that the officer was being investigated for gross misconduct after video footage suggested he may have breached police standards on detention and restraint. According to its own guidance the IPCC defines gross misconduct as a breach of professional standards “so serious it would justify dismissal”.
The Met’s decision not to follow the IPCC’s recommendation and suspend the officer comes at a time of heightened tensions between the police and the black community. The IPCC is investigating the recent cases of four black men who died following contact with the police. Their families are demanding the immediate suspension of the officers involved.
Despite testimony from witnesses indicating that the police had used excessive force and incapacitating gas in the cases of Edson Costa, from London, and Darren Cumberbatch, from Warwickshire, no officer has been removed from frontline duties.
Meanwhile, the Observer has established that the home secretary, Amber Rudd, has been sitting on a controversial independent report into race and deaths in police custody for nine months. The unexplained delay has prompted widespread consternation.
The report is understood to confirm racial disproportionality in police restraint deaths, and says police must be held to account at “an individual and corporate level” if restraint of a suspect is excessive, unnecessary or disproportionate.
Deborah Coles, the director of the pressure group Inquest, who advised the report’s author, Dame Elish Angiolini QC, said: “The danger is that delay will dilute the impact of the report and its findings.”
Omar Khan, acting director of race equality thinktank the Runnymede Trust, said: “The only explanation for delay is editing it, and it is hard to assume that it is not a dilution.”
The Cabinet Office is due to unveil its race disparity audit of public services soon, a collection of data that is expected to expose racial inequalities across the range of government departments in terms of staffing and how policies affect black and ethnic minority groups. Khan said that despite such good intentions, he was still unclear how the government would respond to the audit. “This is the data collection part. We don’t know if the policy part is going to come,” he said.
A recent report by Labour MP David Lammy found endemic bias in the criminal justice system and concluded that prosecutions of some black and ethnic-minority suspects should be deferred or dropped to help overcome the bigotry they faced.
The findings come amid a spate of cases involving officers under investigation or who have been found guilty of misconduct, incidents that Coles said were eroding trust in the police. “There’s never been a time that I can remember where there’s been such a high number of misconduct cases or disciplinary hearings about police officers,” she said.
“There’s a lack of trust and confidence in the accountability mechanisms because they prove themselves time and again unable or unwilling to deal with police misconduct and criminality,” she added.
The Observer report on 3 September into deaths of black men after police contact.