British troopers have been briefly placed on standby over the weekend to help the counterterrorism police in London after some armed officers refused to hold their weapons within the wake of a fellow police officer being charged with homicide.
The Metropolitan Police Service mentioned on Monday that various law enforcement officials took the choice to “step back from armed duties while they consider their position” over the weekend. Their transfer got here after homicide prices have been filed in opposition to a police officer within the killing of Chris Kaba, a younger Black man who was fatally shot by the police in south London final yr.
Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, and different senior police leaders held discussions with the officers over the weekend “to understand their genuinely held concerns,” the police mentioned in a press release. Enough armed officers returned on Monday that help from Britain’s Ministry of Defence was not wanted.
“As of lunchtime on Monday, the number of officers who had returned to armed duties was sufficient for us to no longer require external assistance to meet our counterterrorism responsibilities,” the police mentioned within the assertion.
The episode occurred in opposition to the backdrop of a reckoning over police violence and accountability all over the world. But this dispute underlined the particular challenges going through London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which faces a disaster in public belief, notably after the rape and homicide of Sarah Everard in 2021 by a police officer.
A large-ranging government report ordered on the heels of that killing concluded that the Metropolitan Police power was affected by widespread racism and misogyny, and mentioned its response to scandal was characterised by “denial and obfuscation.” The police power later introduced plans for reforms, however critics say change has not come rapidly sufficient.
The BBC earlier reported that some 300 armed officers had handed in permits that allowed them to hold weapons, though the police didn’t affirm this quantity.
The Metropolitan Police mentioned in its assertion that some armed officers had turn into anxious in regards to the implications of the homicide cost in opposition to one in all their colleagues.
“They are concerned that it signals a shift in the way the decisions they take in the most challenging circumstances will be judged,” the assertion mentioned.
The Metropolitan Police Service is Britain’s largest power and has accountability for policing the capital, but in addition oversees various different specialised forces that work throughout the nation.
Unlike with police forces within the United States, most law enforcement officials in Britain don’t carry weapons. Only round 2,500 specialised officers throughout the service carry firearms, together with the MO19 Specialist Firearms Command, and a few members of the Aviation, Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, and the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
The killing of Mr. Kaba, 24, who was an expectant father, fueled protests within the months after his loss of life final September, and the choice final week by the police power to cost the officer, recognized solely as NX121, was welcomed by his household.
Now that the officer has been charged, few particulars might be revealed in regards to the case, however investigators famous that the officer fired a single shot that pierced the automotive’s windshield and struck Mr. Kaba within the head.
On Sunday, Suella Braverman, Britain’s house secretary whose workplace is answerable for overseeing policing nationwide, voiced help for armed law enforcement officials and mentioned she had ordered a evaluation into armed policing.
“We depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us from the most dangerous & violent in society,” she wrote in a statement posted to the social media platform X, previously referred to as Twitter. “In the interest of public safety, they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures. They mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties,” she added.
But Charlie Falconer, a former secretary of state for justice, noted on X that the choice to cost an officer for homicide got here from the Crown Prosecution Service, the general public prosecutor for England and Wales, and argued that “attacking this prosecution decision fundamentally undermines rule of law.”