ISSUED BY JUST YORKSHIRE
6 January 2017
JUST’S LETTER TO THE IPCC COMMISSIONER DERRICK CAMPBELL FOLLOWING THE FATAL SHOOTING OF MOHAMMED YASSAR YAQUB
Dear Commissioner Derrick Campbell,
In light of the fatal shooting of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub by officers from the West Yorkshire Police Constabulary on the 2nd of January; and our subsequent press releases, JUST Yorkshire seeks clarification on a number of key issues related to the incident. We should add that we are grateful to you and your office for making available both a telephone number and email address for local community members to express their concerns in relation to the investigation, and this incident. Let me also say, that as a prominent local human rights and racial justice organisation, we would be willing to work in partnership with the IPCC to facilitate local community meetings, as we have previously done with your predecessor Commissioner Cindy Butts. This should lend itself to supporting local communities to understand in detail your role, the investigation process and how to raise concerns. More importantly, this approach may also help allay community fears and potential tensions.
The concerns that we would like the IPCC to address are three-fold:
1. Community Confidence:
- You will be aware from the Ipsos Mori Report undertaken in July 2014 entitled Public Confidence in the Police Complaints System that the IPCC faced significant challenges in relation to a perception of its role among ethnic minority communities. The Report highlighted that ‘just one in three (32%) of those from minority groups (are) aware of the IPCC’; 40% of BME people thought the IPCC was part of the police (p.31); and ‘those from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to be confident that the IPCC would handle complaints against the police impartially’ (p.37). Given the scale of this challenge, how will the IPCC respond in this case, to ensure they work to secure the confidence of local BME communities? JUST believes that It is in this context that we can offer you our support.
- Can you confirm if the IPCC has set a timeline for this investigation, and the process it intends to use? In this context, we believe that it is crucial that the IPCC sets out the process by which it intends to engage the key individuals – the officers involved in the operation; members of the West Yorkshire Constabulary; those who were in the car with the victim; potential witnesses; the victim’s family and community members etc. Not only is this critical in terms of earning community confidence and engendering transparency, it will also ensure a degree of ongoing accountability in the process.
- Given the fact that Mr Yaqub is from a Muslim and Pakistani background, can the IPCC confirm what measures it will put in place to ensure that race is not discounted in this investigatory process? It is our view that the IPCC should investigate this case in relation to its compliance with race equality and human rights legislation and ascertain if any equality impact assessment was undertaken.
- Can the IPCC confirm if it has agreed a set of key lines of inquiry with the senior command team of West Yorkshire Police and similarly with the Police and Crime Commissioner?
- Do the IPCC intend to interview all of the officers involved in the operation, particularly the officers who discharged firearms and those authorising the use of such force?
- In the event that officers decline to be interviewed by the IPCC, is there a strategy in place for such a scenario?
- Are there specific statutory guidelines contained within your organisational policy that the IPCC will need to comply with whilst undertaking this investigation? In that regard, can the IPCC make those documents available, and confirm how and who monitors compliance?
- We are particularly concerned about any potential time lapse between the shooting of Mr Yaqub and the IPCC’s arrival on the scene, as the Duggan case has clearly highlighted huge uncertainty over where the gun was in fact located and the level of threat Mr. Duggan posed. How will the IPCC ensure that the evidence is not compromised as a result of any potential time-lapse?
- More fundamentally, can the IPCC confirm, given the potential similarities between this case and that of Mark Duggan, that it will address the following concerns raised by the coroner in the Duggan case which include:
- There was a failure to video record the crime scene;
- That officers had more than 48 hours to compose themselves;
- That there was a lapse time between the actual incident in the Duggan case, and for the IPCC to gather vital intelligence;
- There was the potential for officers to confer;
- And that the evidence presented raised concerns about the sequence of events that took place prior to the fatal shots being fired.
In the light of the above how will the IPCC ensure that in Mr Yaqub’s case the investigation will a) take on board those lessons and recommendations and apply them in this investigation, and b) ensure the outcome is both independent and can stand up to integrity and scrutiny.
Equally important, in our view, is the fact that the Police and Crime Commissioner has invested more than £2 million pounds in transformation technology, and it is now confirmed that the armed unit that fired the fatal shot did not wear body cameras during this incident. Given the Constabulary’s stated belief that body cameras ‘have the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, further improving integrity and the corroboration of evidence by acting as an ‘independent witness,’ we hope the IPCC will interrogate why body cameras were not used in this specific operation. We believe this is critical, particularly as the operation by the Force’s own admission, was ‘pre-planned’ and undertaken on the basis of ‘information received about criminal possession of a firearm.’ We believe that an interrogation of police protocol and control procedures in relation to the operation involving Mr. Yaqub and his (alleged) friends must be considered by the IPCC.
Coupled with this, Commander Neil Basu, Scotland Yard, Head of Armed Policing spoke about the need to protect armed unit officers, and to ensure that there is full co-operation in IPCC investigations. Therefore, are you going to investigate why a constabulary the size of West Yorkshire Police, with regional crime levels, would not prioritise the armed unit with body worn cameras, and secondly why there seems to be a lack of policy in place for body worn cameras, to a) protect the armed unit police officers themselves, and b) civilians when and if pre-planned operations result in a loss of life so that vital evidence is not lost, and can be collated.
3. Other issues for the IPCC consideration
- You will be aware that in a recent IPCC Report entitled ‘Police Use of Force: evidence from complaints, investigations and public perception’ , it highlighted negative perceptions from ethnic minority communities on the police use of force. In the context of West Yorkshire, 1438 allegations were made on the Constabulary’s use of force between 2009-14, ranking it among the top five in the country. (see pages 24-25). Under the section Accountability and Recording (see page vii) the Report outlined the following public concerns about police conduct:
- The lack of information gathered before risk assessments were conducted and force was used.
- (the absence of) robust methods of recording and monitoring when police officers use force.
- the use of body worn video (to) assist with accountability and investigations into how force was used.
In the light of the above concerns, we are suggesting that the IPCC investigation considers:
- What appropriate information/intelligence and risk assessments were undertaken by officers involved in the operation?
- What are the methods of recording and monitoring used by West Yorkshire Police when officers use force or are likely to use force?
- If a decision was taken not to use body cameras, at what level within the police hierarchy was the decision made and what was the rationale for not having a visual record of the operation. We consider a review of the Force’s policy document on the use of body cameras in operations is critical to the IPCC investigation.
The 2014 IPCC Report also made clear recommendations relating to the police use of force (see page x). The Report states:
‘To help make sure that the study leads to changes in police practice, we have made a number of recommendations to police stakeholders and the police… A fundamental and underlying recommendation is the need to record, analyse and publish information on all uses of force.’
Other recommendations include:
- Communications and de-escalation
- Special considerations when dealing with vulnerable groups.
- Training to ensure consistency with national guidance, and specific training in dealing with unconscious bias.
- Dealing with incidents in medical settings.
- Use of body worn video
- Understanding community impact.
In relation to the very clear recommendations set out by the IPCC we are suggesting that the IPCC investigation considers:
- Whether these recommendations (and others outlined in Chapter 6 of the Report) were considered and if so at what level?
- Whether these recommendations were formally implemented? If the IPCC recommendations were overlooked, the reasons for this ought to be explored.
Finally, and to reiterate, without pre-empting the outcome of the IPCC investigation, we believe that there are potential similarities between the Mark Duggan and Mr Yaqub’s case and the IPCC investigation must address whether Forces across England and Wales have applied the lessons from police failings in the operation in their own operational planning procedures.
We look forward to an early response to the issues we have raised above.