The coroner’s report on the killing of Mark Duggan has raised serious concerns about the conduct of the Metropolitan Police, the National Crime Agency and the Independent Police Complaints Comission.
In the report, published today, Judge Keith Cutler said that he was concerned about insufficient intelligence gathering, “bland and uninformative” police statements, and the “perception of collusion” created by officers compiling their statements in the hours after the shooting.
Judge Cutler added that better intelligence work might have prevented Mr Duggan from picking up the gun from Kevin Hutchinson-Foster in the hours before his death.
The report, which sets out the Coroner's eight major concerns, says “fatal police shootings are not as rigorously examined as they could be”, and that in this case the Independent Police Complaints Commission did not adequately collect evidence from the crime scene.
It said that all those conducting work such as searches, the seizure and labelling of evidence and initial contact with witnesses and with Mark Duggan’s family were Metropolitan Police employees.
And it says there was a confusion over who was in charge of the crime scene, leading to evidence being at risk of destruction.
The report is critical of the delay between the shooting and the statements being made by key witnesses and officers, and recommends that trained firearms officers be prepared to give detailed statements shortly after any killing.
It also states that the crime scene investigation in the hours after Mark Duggan’s death should have been video-recorded.
The report adds that certain evidence was not made available to leading counsels in the inquest, nor to an investigator associated with the IPCC, and asks the Home Secretary to examine the laws surrounding the withholding of intelligence records.
The Metropolitan Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission now have 56 days to respond to the report.
In a statement issued this morning, a police spokesman said: “Whatever the circumstances it is always tragic when someone dies at the hands of the police and it is important that we are willing to learn from every incident to help us develop our procedures and tactics.”
He added: “We send out well-trained, professional armed officers thousands of times a year to combat gun crime, only firing shots once or twice. These careful tactics have significantly reduced gun crime, but that does not mean we can be complacent and any concerns are listened to and taken into account when developing national firearms policing tactics.”
The police further listed a series of changes to procedures following the shooting of Mr Duggan, including changes to the training of firearms officers, clearer guidelines on the level of detail required from officers in official statements, and stricter measures to ensure that conferring between officers under investigation does not take place.
The spokesman said: “No officer sets out at the start of the day to run an operation that results in someone dying. But the task our officers face in making split-second decisions when confronting armed criminals and protecting the public means there is a risk - a very small risk - that this will happen.
“We want to ensure that we are doing the best job we can in difficult circumstances and we will now carefully consider and speak to other agencies about the concerns of the Coroner. There is still an ongoing IPCC investigation and we await their findings and do not wish to be drawn into debating publicly the Coroner's concerns at this time.”