Mark Duggan was shot and killed by Metropolitan Police officers on 4 August 2011. An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the full circumstances of this shooting is still ongoing.
In the aftermath of the shooting there was widespread criticism of the police and the IPCC for what was perceived to be a lack of adequate contact with and support for Mark Duggan’s family.
In September, Mr Duggan’s family lodged a formal complaint that his relatives had not been informed of his death by either the Metropolitan Police or the IPCC and I decided to independently investigate that complaint.
The findings from the investigation have been published today.
The investigation does not include events that took place on Saturday 6 August at Tottenham Police Station and nor does it consider the causes of the subsequent riots. Those events are the subject of several other reports including those by the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel and the Home Affairs Select Committee.
During our investigation it became clear that the family’s main concern was that Mr Duggan’s parents had not been formally notified of his death by either the police or the IPCC.
The investigation is complete and has found that Mr Duggan’s parents were not informed of his death by the Metropolitan Police Service, whose responsibility it was, and I have upheld that complaint.
Although there is no dispute that two members of Mr Duggan’s family, who had introduced themselves as his sister and his partner, were spoken to by a police family liaison officer at the scene and on the night of the shooting, their accounts of those discussions differ significantly from those of the police.
The family liaison officer told the IPCC that he had confirmed to those family members with ‘99% certainty’ that the person who had been shot was Mark. In his account, those family members had asked that the police not attend the Duggan family home to formally notify his parents, as it would be too much of a shock for them and that they would do it themselves.
By contrast, both family members are categorical that neither of them told the family liaison officers that the police should not visit Mr Duggan’s parents to tell them the news of his death, nor did they say that they would inform his parents themselves. Indeed, both have said that they left the scene uncertain that the dead man was Mark Duggan, so in their view, they would not have been in a position to deliver such news to his parents.
The IPCC took over family liaison on Friday 5 August and were told by the MPS that Mr Duggan’s parents did not want direct contact. An IPCC Family Liaison Manager telephoned a family member and made arrangements for the formal identification of Mr Duggan’s body the following day.
In the aftermath of Mr Duggan’s death, his family were very confused and wanted to know what had happened to him. They did not understand the role of the IPCC, nor that the organisation was separate from the police. It would have greatly assisted them if a senior representative of the IPCC had visited the family home to introduce the organisation and explain its role.
With the benefit of hindsight, the IPCC should have explored the family’s wishes in more depth following the handover from the police family liaison officers, and not made the assumption that any wishes that may have been expressed by the family in relation to the police would automatically extend to the IPCC.
Mark’s mother told us that she was receiving conflicting messages from various people in the community and the lack of formal notification allowed her to hope that the worst had not happened. As she told me:
“A mother’s worst nightmare is the police coming to your door to tell you that your child is dead. Because this did not happen, I believed the worst had not happened.”
What is clear from this case is that a grieving family, suffering from shock, felt badly treated by the police and the IPCC. The MPS has apologised to the family for the way in which Mr Duggan’s parents became aware of his death and I have told them how sorry I am that the IPCC did not provide more support, nor visit them the day after Mr Duggan’s death.
The findings from the IPCC's independent investigation can be found on the IPCC investigations report page.
For media enquiries, please contact the IPCC press office on 0207 166 3000
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