The College has today (Tuesday, 4 July) published new guidance on how police officers and staff should manage the events that follow an armed policing incident which leads to a death or serious injury.
The post-deployment Authorised Professional Practice (APP) aims to balance the need for an open, full and independent investigation of any incident with managing any ongoing threat to the public whilst attending to the welfare of those involved.The APP describes steps that can be taken to provide transparency, including consideration of separation, the supervision of officers and the involvement of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).The guidance makes it clear to officers and their managers that conferring between those involved in any incident and others should not take place before a statement is made, other than to share operational or safety critical information. However, the automatic separation of those most involved from their colleagues is not required unless it is safe, practical and necessary to do so and that should be decided by the senior officer in command of the incident.The guidance has been developed on the basis that police officers who have had to use firearms as part of their role should be treated as professional witnesses unless there are grounds to suspect that they have done something unprofessional or unlawful. College of Policing CEO Alex Marshall said: "Our guidance outlines an effective and practical approach for officers and staff which balances the need to keep the public safe with ensuring that all available evidence is gathered to support an independent investigation."Officers who carry out armed duties are volunteers with high levels of training who put themselves at risk to protect the public and should be treated as professional witnesses unless there are reasons to believe that they have not acted professionally."There should be no conferring before a statement is made but if police are responding to an ongoing situation then we expect officers to make practical decisions about providing operational information to protect the public. "We are aware that automatic separation is perceived very negatively by officers and we are satisfied that the approach set out in the guidance provides the necessary protection and support both to the independent investigation and those most closely involved."We also recognise it is essential for the family and loved ones of those who have been killed or seriously injured that a full review of the circumstances of the incident takes place so that they can understand what has happened and why."
A previous version of this APP was tested by judicial review and judged to be a lawful and pragmatic approach to managing competing pressures. Since that time the APP has been further developed to provide greater clarity on the expectations of the officers, police staff and witnesses involved to support the independent investigation. The guidance has been developed to ensure that forces are complying with the European Convention on Human Rights which imposes a duty on the State to conduct an effective official investigation when individuals have been killed, or in some cases seriously injured, as a result of the use of force by the police.
You can view the full guidance on the College website.