Some London Police Officers Step Back From Armed Duty After Murder Charge

British troopers have been briefly placed on standby over the weekend to assist 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 plenty of cops took the choice to “step back from armed duties while they consider their position” over the weekend. Their transfer got here after homicide expenses have been filed towards 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 came about towards the backdrop of a reckoning over police violence and accountability world wide. But this dispute underlined the precise challenges going through London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which faces a disaster in public belief, significantly after the rape and homicide of Sarah Everard in 2021 by a police officer.

A large-ranging authorities report ordered on the heels of that killing concluded that the Metropolitan Police pressure was affected by widespread racism and misogyny, and mentioned its response to scandal was characterised by “denial and obfuscation.” The police pressure later introduced plans for reforms, however critics say change has not come shortly 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 verify this quantity.

The Metropolitan Police mentioned in its assertion that some armed officers had grow to be anxious concerning the implications of the homicide cost towards one among 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 pressure and has accountability for policing the capital, but additionally oversees plenty of different specialised forces that work throughout the nation.

Unlike with police forces within the United States, most cops 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.

Chris Kaba was fatally shot in his automotive in London final yr.Credit…Inquest, through Associated Press

The killing of Mr. Kaba, 24, who was an expectant father, fueled protests within the months after his demise final September, and the choice final week by the police pressure to cost the officer, recognized solely as NX121, was welcomed by his household.

Now that the officer has been charged, few particulars may be revealed concerning 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 dwelling secretary whose workplace is liable for overseeing policing nationwide, voiced assist for armed cops 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 press release 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, famous 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.”

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