IPCC concludes investigation into Merseyside Police response to shooting threat
An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation has concluded that a member of police staff failed to implement instructions given by a senior officer which may have prevented a shooting taking place.
In addition the investigation found calls reporting threats made prior to the shooting were not handled in accordance with force procedures.
Two door supervisors working at the West Derby Hotel in Liverpool were shot in the legs in an incident on 15 August 2010.
Analysis of police records showed five calls had been made from the pub in the days leading up to the shooting reporting concerns about a group of men who had allegedly made a threat to use a firearm.
Merseyside Police referred the matter to the IPCC on 20 August 2010 and an independent investigation began.
The investigation identified issues with the way some of the calls had been handled.
The first call to Merseyside Police from the West Derby Hotel was at 10.54pm on 6 August 2010 reporting a suspicious vehicle circling the area containing men in balaclavas.
A police patrol attended at 12.33am and spoke with the door staff to give reassurance. The officers were informed the suspicious vehicle was linked to a group of men who had an altercation with door staff previously after they were refused entry.
An officer advised that this would be treated as suspicious activity and an intelligence form would be submitted to the Area Intelligence Office. It is apparent that the intelligence form was never received by the Area Intelligence Office.
On 13 August at 10.40pm a call was received from the manager of the West Derby Hotel reporting a confrontation between door staff and a group of men who had been refused entry. It was reported the men had threatened to return and shoot the public house.
The manager requested that police officers paid passing attention to the premises.
The call was initially logged as Grade 2, but at 11.06pm a further call was received from the public house reporting five cars had pulled up together near to the building. Police units were immediately despatched but there was no trace of the vehicles on arrival.
The investigation found this call was not handled in line with force procedures.
In particular, as the log included a threat to shoot, the Force Incident Manager and the Critical Incident Manager should have been notified, and the information should have been passed to the Area Intelligence Office. None of this was done.
The fourth call was made at 12.57am on 14 August. In this call it was reported that the men mentioned in the call the previous evening had returned to the pub armed with bottles.
This call was given a Grade 1 prioritisation and police patrols arrived while the emergency call was still in progress. The police officers stopped and checked a number of people but no criminal offences were identified.
However, the IPCC investigation identified problems again with how this call had been handled. The Control Room Supervisor, Force Incident Manager and Area Intelligence Officer were not made aware of the call. The Critical Incident Manager was informed, but was not advised of the connected threat to shoot at the premises.
In relation to the non-notification of the Area Intelligence Officer the IPCC has noted that since this incident Merseyside Police has implemented a tighter quality control process to ensure that any non receipt of intelligence forms is highlighted and the core information is in any event available immediately to the Area Intelligence Office.
The final call investigated was made at 9pm on 15 August.
In this call the manager of the public house reported fresh information about a threat to "cause trouble” that evening and recounted the events highlighted in the previous calls including the threat to shoot. The police log created interpreted this as a threat to shoot the door staff.
This log was passed to the Liverpool North Control Room, before being passed to an Inspector who was the Force Incident Manager.
The Inspector gave a number of instructions in response to the log. These included informing the Critical Incident Manager and making all possible enquiries to establish the circumstances, the possible offenders and whether any action was necessary under the force's Threat to Life and Serious Injury policy. A further instruction was to consider a static high visibility patrol presence near the location to deter any imminent violence.
These instructions were relayed to the Control Room Supervisor at 9.21pm. The instructions were not carried out.
At 10.14pm Merseyside Police received a call stating that two doormen at the West Derby Hotel had been shot. Both men had been shot in the leg.
The failure to carry out the Force Incident Manager's instructions was the most serious issue in the handling of this incident. The staff member involved was removed immediately from temporary supervisory duties.
The IPCC also recommended Merseyside Police conduct a full review of its Threat to Life Policy with particular emphasis on providing clear guidance to officers and staff as to the factors leading to a determination of a credible and preventable threat to kill, injure and cause damage so that the policy can be implemented.
IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: "These emergency calls clearly indicated an increasing threat towards the door staff at the West Derby Public House. I appreciate that threats from drunken patrons who may be disgruntled with door staff may be a regular occurrence and that the police, at an immediate operational response level have a difficult task in assessing and responding appropriately to such threats. However, in this case it is evident that there was a pattern of sinister and threatening behaviour developing.
"During the calls on the 13/14 August policies were not followed resulting in opportunities being missed to take action which might have disrupted the threat. However the main failure in this matter is the lack of response to the Force Incident Manager's instructions to the final call on 15 August. These instructions were designed to put tactics in place that may have disrupted the criminals' plans and may have stopped the shooting taking place.
"The control room supervisor cited a busy workload for the failure to implement the instructions, but the imminent threat contained within the calls from the public house should have taken priority. I am confident Merseyside Police have digested the findings of our investigation and they will ensure the appropriate lessons will be learned.”
Ian Christon, IPCC Regional Communications Officer (North Region)
Tel 0161 2468582
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