Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
1. Introduction and background
1.1. Part 2 of this Report is exempt because it falls within an exemption specified in para 2(2) of the Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011 and/or under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, e.g. because the information amounts to personal data, is confidential or commercially sensitive.
1.2. Inquest proceedings started on 22nd February 2016. Confirmation was received from the Coroner on 17th February 2016 the officers concerned have been accorded the status of an Interested Person.
1.3. The factual background giving rise to the proceedings are as follows; On 17th April 2015, an adult male was arrested for threats to commit criminal damage. He was taken to an east London police station and detained. After interview and charge he was remanded overnight.
1.4. On 18 April 2015, he was placed in the care of SERCO and taken to Magistrates’ Court for his first appearance.
1.5. At Magistrates’ Court the male was placed in a cell at approximately 8.20am. At about 11.05am the male was found to have collapsed in his cell. First aid was performed and LAS attended but life was pronounced extinct the same day
1.6. On 1st May 2015 the IPCC declared this matter to subject to an independent investigation.
1.7. The applicants all performed the role of custody sergeant during the males’ detention at the police station. There is a clear conflict of interests between the position of the Commissioner and the Applicant and accordingly the Applicants requires separate legal representation and financial assistance. This is supported by DLS.
1.8. The inquest concluded with a narrative verdict finding that the deceased died as a result of alcohol related seizure and chronic artery atherosclerosis.
1.9. The IPCC investigation concluded with the three custody sergeants facing misconduct meetings in relation to the adequacy of their administrative actions when dealing with the male. However the inquest concluded that none of these actions led to causation.
2. Issues for consideration
2.1. For the DMPC to consider whether there was a conflict of interest requiring separate representations and financial assistance and whether the financial assistance will secure an efficient and effective force.
2.2. The DMPC has power to grant the application if she is satisfied that funding the Applicant’s legal expenses in the proceedings is likely to secure the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force.
2.3. All disciplinary proceedings regarding the Applicants are concluded.
2.4. The MPS undertook learning as a consequence of the death of the adult male and further learning followed the Prevention of Future Death report issued by the coroner.
3. Financial Comments
3.1. The solicitors acting for the officer applicants have submitted an estimate of the total costs of the separate representation in support of the application for financial assistance in the sum of £16,700 plus VAT.
3.2. The costs will be met from the 1996 Police Act Expenditure budget held within DLS.
4. Legal Comments
4.1. The DMPC has discretion under Section 3(6) and para. 7 of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to fund police officers’ legal expenses in proceedings if they consider that providing the funding secures the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force, R -v- DPP ex parte Duckenfield (2000) 1 WLR 55. The Deputy Mayor has delegated authority, under para. 2.20 of the Scheme of Delegation, to consider the current application for financial assistance.
4.2. A conflict of interests arises between the Commissioner and Applicant which gives rise to the need for separate representation and financial assistance for the reasons set out above.
4.3. Home Office Circular 43/2001 provides guidance which applies to MOPAC. Para. 12 states “police officers must be confident that Police Authorities (now Police and Crime Commissioners) will provide financial support for officers in legal proceedings where they have acted in good faith and have exercised their judgement reasonably. Police Authorities will need to decide each case on its merits, but subject to that, there should be a strong presumption in favour of payment where these criteria are met”.
5. Equality Comments
5.1. There will be media and family/community interest in this case and the MPS cannot discount the inferences and potential for disquiet and distrust that can be brought about by any related activity such as stated above. Unless the community concerns associated with this case are managed effectively there is the potential for the family/community to distrust the police. To continue policing with the consent of the population it serves, the police will always seek to be open and transparent in the decisions we make.