According to many news outlets today, as many as 100 police offers from the Greater London Police are refusing to resume their duties in an armed capacity – following the charging with murder of one of their fellow officers for the death of Chris Kaba in September 2022. I am not in a position to say whether or not the charge of murder against the police officer in question is justified, however it is clear that the decision to prosecute was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) based on evidence provided to them by the Police. One has to ask then… (as this is the process for all prosecutions, not just for the prosecution of serving police officers), do the police not have any faith that the CPS makes correct and proper decisions?
Surely if the police trust the CPS, then they should trust the CPS in this decision too? Of course, if they have reason to question this decision, then this would lead me to conclude that there is room to question all CPS decisions… maybe no-one should trust the CPS?
According to the Guardian’s reporting of comments made by Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, officers were “…understandably anxious as they consider how others may assess their split-second decisions years after the event, with the luxury of as much time as they want to do this, and the effect this can have on them and their families.” This statement sends the clear message that these police officers do not have confidence that the CPS (when reviewing any such future incidents) will be capable of making a fair judgement. Therefore, these police officers do not trust the CPS. In which case, they shouldn’t simply refuse to carry a firearm they should resign completely from the force. How can any police officer reasonably expect to be able to hold the respect of the community and to police with consent, when applying rules of evidence that they themselves do not respect or honour?
I am not personally trained in the use of firearms, or in the protection of the community, and therefore I cannot legitimately speak of the pressures that may be felt by any person who (in all reasonable terms) could be responsible for taking – or indeed saving – a life. I can only imagine the difficulty, especially given that any such decision may well need to be made in a split-second. What I can say however, is that surely we can expect that if the individual who is asked to hold such a role does not feel comfortable with that responsibility, or if they do not feel properly trained for the role, then they are perfectly justified in expecting that their organisation either support them in that goal, or removes them from the post. I would even say that the individual in question themselves should remove themselves from such a position.
Perhaps these police officers are merely now recognising in fact that their training is insufficient, and that the judgement they themselves have is not aligned with that of the Crown Prosecution Service.
Only time will tell – but I would doubt very much if the Met Police will declare publicly that their armed response units don’t feel ‘up to the job’.