Army to provide back-up after police down weapons over murder charge

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The Metropolitan Police has called in the army to help provide counter-terrorism support after firearms officers downed their weapons in protest at the charging of an officer with the murder of an unarmed man.

In an effort to quell the rebellion and signal her government’s support for policing, home secretary Suella Braverman said she had launched a review into armed policing.

“They mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties,” she wrote on social media platform X. “Officers risking their lives to keep us safe have my full backing and I will do everything in my power to support them.”

Chris Kaba, who was 24 and whose partner was expecting a child, was killed in September 2022 by a serving police officer in south London. Kaba was later found to have been unarmed.

An unidentified officer, referred to as NX121, was charged with murder this week following a review of evidence by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which carried out a six-month investigation.

More than 100 counter-terrorism firearms officers responded this weekend by saying they no longer felt comfortable doing their job if they could face the same outcome.

Military personnel called in to provide back-up support will not be deployed on the streets of London, nor will they have powers of arrest and they will only be called on for specific tasks where a capability cannot be provided by the police, said a person briefed on the agreement.

Sir Mark Rowley, Met Police commissioner, welcomed Braverman’s review into armed policing and demanded reform of how armed police are held to account for wrongdoing, as he sought to respond to protesting officers.

In an open letter, Rowley argued that the threshold for investigating police use of force by the IOPC and the Crown Prosecution Service should be raised and protection strengthened for officers who use force, among other things. 

“There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that, even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family,” he wrote. “Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour.”

At the time of his death, Kaba was driving an Audi car that was not registered to him. An automatic number plate-recognition camera had identified the vehicle as having been involved in a previous firearms incident.

He was shot through the driver’s side window and died two hours later. He was found to have been unarmed, according to the IOPC.

Following the charging of the officer, Kaba’s family issued a statement saying they welcomed the move and “hope and pray that justice will be served”.

The Met Police said: “The ministry of defence has agreed to a request to provide the Met with counter-terrorism support should it be needed.”

The ministry said: “We have accepted a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request from the Home Office to provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed.”

Source: Financial Times

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