Two Metropolitan Police Federation Represtentatives have spoken out about a Court of Appeal ruling that could impact any officer involved in a use-of-force case.
John Partington, PFEW’s Deputy Secretary, and Steve Hartshorn, PFEW’s National Firearms Lead, spoke out after the Court of Appeal found in favour of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in the case of ‘W80’, a firearms officer being investigated over the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker in Wood Green in December 2015.
Under the new ruling the panel would be entitled to consider whether the officer’s honestly held belief that force was necessary was an objectively reasonable one in all the circumstances.
John told Police magazine: “This effectively means that a breach of the standards could arise when an officer uses force because they honestly believe it is necessary and that turns out to be mistaken.
“So, for the purposes of the misconduct proceedings, their use of force will be judged by whether a right-thinking person with knowledge of the facts available to the officer would consider it a necessary use of force. This is a subtle but very important deviation to how police officers have been trained.”
The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court, but in the meantime Steve says that officers are in limbo.
Steve said: “Officers are trained in the current criminal law application in terms of how they justify force. This current situation may give them rise to pause and think, ‘Is what I’m doing objectively reasonable when compared to what I’m actually trained in?’
“The key thing is that officers have not been trained for this situation. So we’re calling on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing to issue advice and guidance to officers.
“We want to win the case at the Supreme Court but if that doesn’t happen we need to realise that the Appeal Court’s ruling will apply. Right now, we’ve got officers potentially falling foul of misconduct regulations, so the NPCC and the College need to act.”