Firearms officers will be banned from collaborating on their statements about fatal shootings, under new draft guidelines being drawn up by police chiefs.Hmmm, this suggests they aren’t too confident about the prospects of the family of gun-wielding barrister Mark Saunders losing their High Court challenge to the practice then, and are looking to head off bad PR at the pass:
The Daily Telegraph understands that draft rules for the official police manual are expected to stop marksmen from writing their statements together after critical incidents – changing a practice accepted through case law for more than 50 years.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) is in the "final stages" of drafting the proposals, which are due to be introduced pending a High Court ruling today relating to the shooting of Mark Saunders at his London home in May.Expect to see some rumblings over this, with the more militant threatening to hand in their firearms tickets, just as they did last time they faced criticism over the death of an innocent man.
The family of Mr Saunders, a barrister, launched a judicial review, claiming that the practice of conferring meant that police evidence was "tainted" and could lead to deliberate collusion between officers to distort accounts of events.
Mr Justice Underhill is expected to comment on the practice, and rule specifically whether it is unlawful under European human rights laws.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has previously condemned collaborating as "unacceptable" after the shootings of Harry Stanley in east London in 1999 and Jean Charles de Menezes in south London in 2005. It said such sharing of evidence was "likely to undermine public confidence in the police".Indeed it has. And the De Menezes inquest details so far haven’t changed that, except to undermine it further..
It is understood that under the new Acpo directions, in the Manual of Guidance on the Police Use of Firearms, officers will be able to confer during and after shootings, for "sound" operational reasons.Next move to the police unions. It’ll be interesting to see where they go…
However they will be obliged to write up their first account and subsequent statements about an incident individually.