Baroness Louise Casey, whose independent review published earlier this year reported “elitist attitudes and toxic cultures” in Metropolitan Police firearms units, has described as “incredibly unhelpful” what she termed the “public discourse” about decisions by dozens of Met officers to cease performing firearms duties following one of their colleagues being charged with murder for his shooting dead of Londoner Chris Kaba last year.
Speaking at City Hall at the first public gathering of the London Policing Board, a new body set up by Sadiq Khan at her suggestion, Casey (pictured) said she acknowledged that, within the context of media coverage “and several other things” during the run-up to the meeting, “there is an ongoing case, an officer has been charged with murder and a family is bereaved”.
She continued: “I have found the public discourse on this incredibly unhelpful and I do not intend to go into it today,” but reminded board members and the public of “a big reform issue” addressed in Chapter 6 of her report, which said that “normal rules do not seem to apply or be applied” in a Met Specialist Firearms Command (MO19) dominated by cliques, and that the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit had become a demoralised “dark corner” of the Met “where poor behaviours can easily flourish”.
The officer who shot Kaba was charged with murder last Thursday following a year-long investigation of the circumstances of his death. On Saturday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said police officers “must not fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties” and announced she had “launched a review to ensure they have the confidence to do their jobs while protecting us all”.
Braverman’s intervention was described by Lord Charles Falconer, the UK’s first justice secretary, as “attacking” the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to bring the charge, adding that it “fundamentally undermines the rule of law”. His criticism was also aimed at Met officers who had stood down from firearms duties and at Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who wrote an open letter to Braverman welcoming her promised review.
Casey did not mention to Kaba case by name and Mayor Khan, who chaired the meeting, warned board members against referring to it in ways that might risk inadvertently affected a live court case.
Later in the meeting, responding to a prior request by the Mayor, Rowley said that over the weekend “officers were extremely anxious” about their situations with much of their concern “driven by families” worried about the pressure and length of time investigations into the use of firearms often entails, with “many of them under pressure from their partners, wives, husbands, parents, children, who are saying ‘I’m worried about what you might go through'”.
Rowley said he was “immensely proud of our firearms officers” and that they “absolutely expect to be held to account, and they know that’s really important in terms of trust and policing”.
On London will carry further coverage of the first London Policing Board meeting later this week. Watch it in full here. X/Twitter: On London and Dave Hill. If you value On London and its writers, become a supporter or a paid subscriber to Dave Hill’s Substack for just £5 a month or £50 a year. Photo from Suella Braverman’s X profile.