An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) review of complaints about the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Territorial Support Group (TSG) has been released.
The TSG provides a pan-London response for public order, anti-terrorism activity and assist the city’s boroughs in reducing crime.
The review began in 2010 following public concerns about the level of complaints made against TSG officers - including allegations of a prevailing culture of violence and aggression.
The TSG, however, expressed concerns that the public had little understanding of the nature of its role, which frequently involves dealing with confrontational situations.
In the light of this, the IPCC, with the assistance of the MPS, launched a review of complaints and conduct cases involving TSG officers over the period 2008-2012 to provide a detailed analysis of the complaints, to identify any underlying trends and make recommendations for any areas for improvement.
Most complaints over the four-year period were dealt with directly by the MPS, although over the period the IPCC carried out a thematic supervision of 21 cases, and independently investigated or managed a further 15 cases, including four arising from the G20 protests in 2009.
The report found that the TSG has, at least historically, generated higher numbers of recorded complaints of excessive force and oppressive behaviour than their Territorial Policing (borough-based) colleagues.
However, over the past three years, the MPS has put in place a programme of interventions to learn from these complaints, and over this period the number of complaints has reduced substantially.
Though a key role of the TSG was to undertake planned interventions in public order situations, more than half of the cases dealt with by the IPCC involved the use of stop and search powers.
Of the 15 cases dealt with directly by the IPCC, 12 were referred to the CPS who determined that criminal proceedings should be brought in seven cases, for offences ranging from assault to manslaughter. Two officers were convicted following these proceedings, and two were dismissed.
The report concludes that:
The TSG management team identified in 2009 that public complaints against TSG officers were unacceptably high and there needed to be improvement in professional standards performance at all levels
Over recent years there has been a considerable change in the way the TSG deals with complaints, including professional standards training and intrusive supervision
While the comparative decline in complaints is commendable, there are still instances of excessive force and abuse of authority, including unlawful arrests, and a high proportion of complaints arising from unplanned stop and search encounters. Further work needs to be done to deal with these underlying issues so as to reduce complaints and improve public confidence
The TSG voluntary programme of community engagement, and the establishment of a community reference group is commendable, although this work could be further enhanced, particularly in dealing with complaints about stop and search
The TSG, with the assistance of the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards, needs to look more closely at its complaints handling to see if it is properly upholding complaints where a member of the public has a legitimate grievance
Click here to view a full copy of the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Territorial Support Group (TSG) report.
For further information contact the IPCC press office on 0161 2468633
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