Two members of a group set up to ensure community confidence in the investigation of the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham have resigned, following reports of losing confidence in the Inquiry set up by the IPCC. The row centres around the role of the IPCC in authorising the removal of key evidence related to the investigation. The taxi Duggan had been travelling in was taken away from the scene by police just after the shooting, despite it containing “evidence of major significance”.

Stafford Scott and John Noblemunn were part of a three-member community reference group appointed by the IPCC to investigate the circumstances of Mark Duggan’s shooting after he was shot dead by a Scotland Yard marksman on 4 August in Tottenham, North London. The shooting led to the worst kind of rioting and disturbances; five people died, numerous others were injured and an estimated £200 million worth of property was damaged.

On 21st November 2011 the Guardian reported concerns expressed by Stafford Scott, one of the members of the Inquiry who wrote:

I have been alarmed to learn that not only have the IPCC broken their own guidelines by giving out erroneous information to journalists regarding the ‘shoot-out’ involving Mark Duggan and police, that didn’t actually happen. But I have discovered that their investigation … is flawed and in all probability tainted to a degree that means we will never be able to have faith in their final report into the killing.” ­(1)

On 12th August 2011 Channel 4 News reported that, the Independent Police Complaints Commission admitted that Duggan did not open fire, stating, “it seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to believe that shots were exchanged“. (2)

On the same day the Guardian reported a statement from the IPCC substantiating the concerns raised by Scott and Noblemunn:

Analysis of media coverage and queries raised on Twitter have alerted to us to the possibility that we may have inadvertently given misleading information to journalists when responding to very early media queries following the shooting of Mark Duggan by MPS officers on the evening of 4 August.”(3)

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has already had to admit that, despite police claims that Mark Duggan had fired at them first, the bullet embedded in a police radio was actually police issue.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that concerns have been raised over its failure to investigate complaints properly. JUST West Yorkshire is aware of a number of cases where the IPCC, in contravention of their own statutory guidance, has failed to investigate complaints made to them regarding the criminal behaviour and serious misconduct by police officers from the Professional Standards Department in West Yorkshire. Instead the complaints were referred back to the very department that the concerns were being made against, thereby raising serious questions about the impartiality of the investigation.

The National Audit Office conducted a review of the IPCC in 2008 and found it did not have any formal procedures for reviewing cases and its investigators had inadequate training.

Similarly, research undertaken by the Institute of Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) in 2008 revealed that 78% of the respondents they interviewed believed that the IPCC process lacked any impartiality and 80% said they were either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the manner in which their appeal had been dealt with. Just under half of appellants did not believe the IPCC had furnished them with clear reasons for their final decision.

The research by the ICPR also reported that nine cases had been lost or conceded to date by the IPCC because it accepted that casework managers had made errors in “handling appeals, dispensations or discontinuances, or the IPCC had made unjustifiable decisions on the disclosure of evidence gathered in the course of an independent investigation.” (4) Concerns were also highlighted in the Review regarding IPCC’s inexperience around evidence gathering and interviewing skills required to conduct complex investigations.

JUST West Yorkshire has logged with the National Black Police Association, concerns raised by a number of BME police officers from the West Yorkshire constabulary, about IPCC’s failure to investigate the manner in which the Professional Standards Department have conducted themselves in relation to a number of cases.

JUST believes that in view of the prevailing charge of incompetence levelled at the IPCC it is incumbent on the Home Office to review the funding and operational performance of the IPCC. JUST believes that an urgent independent inquiry should be conducted into the IPCC with a view to compiling a report to determine whether the IPCC needs to be overhauled or replaced by a framework that inspires public confidence and promotes the cause of fair justice within our society.

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