Met response to IOPC decision on gross misconduct hearing for officer who shot Jermaine Baker
The Metropolitan Police Service is reviewing a decision by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that misconduct proceedings should be brought against the firearms officer, known as W80, for the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker eight years ago.
W80 was part of a firearms team deployed to intercept a car containing a gang who were attempting to break a dangerous criminal out of custody. An imitation firearm was found in the car.
Deputy Commissioner Lynne Owens said:
“Today’s announcement follows protracted legal proceedings which we know have had a significant personal impact on Mr Baker’s family, the officer, their family and colleagues.
“A public inquiry, concluded in July 2022, determined Mr Baker was lawfully killed. We disagreed with the IOPC decision to direct we hold a gross misconduct hearing for W80 and wrote in detail to the IOPC inviting it to review and reconsider its direction. We wrote to the IOPC more than a year ago and have today been informed of its decision.
“The IOPC has told us that the direction to bring proceedings stands and we must hold a misconduct hearing. We will review the IOPC decision and reasons and consider our next steps.
“We note that the IOPC has asked the MPS to consider asking another force to hold the hearing to provide additional reassurance about the independence of the process.
“We do not accept that our wider call for support and legal reassurance for armed officers impinges upon our independence, nor the impartiality of the misconduct hearing process.
“We will be seeking legal advice in light of the IOPC’s request.
“Last week, the Commissioner wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for reforms intended to simplify and speed up the process by which officers are held to account, particularly when they use force in the course of their duties.
“We welcome the announcement of a review by the Home Office which we hope will bring much needed clarity about the legal powers of armed officers and the threshold for investigating police use of force.
“We will engage fully with the review with a view to avoiding the sort of delay witnessed in this case, achieving greater clarity and providing better protection for the public.
“Our firearms officers do an incredibly difficult job in some of the most challenging and often dangerous circumstances. It is right and they expect and accept their actions are open to independent scrutiny – but officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, with confidence it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour.”
On 11 December 2015, during a planned intelligence-led police operation to prevent an organised criminal gang breaking a dangerous criminal out of lawful custody, W80 shot and killed Jermaine Baker as he sat in a vehicle with others in Wood Green.
Mr Baker was not in possession of a firearm. An imitation firearm, in the style of a black Uzi sub-machine gun, was recovered from the rear of the car.
The shooting of Mr Baker was referred to the then Independent Police Complaints Commission (now the Independent Office for Police Conduct ) on the day of the incident.
On 16 December 2015, W80 was suspended from duty.
In June 2016, the criminal gang who took part in the plot was jailed for a total of 27 years.
In November 2016, the IPCC investigation concluded that W80 had a case to answer for gross misconduct for his use of lethal force.
In June 2017, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that W80 would not be charged with any criminal offence. W80’s suspension was lifted and the officer returned to work.
In March 2018, the IOPC recommended that W80 should face misconduct proceedings. The Met did not agree and did not follow the recommendation. The Met disagreed with the IOPC as to the correct self-defence test that applied in respect of police disciplinary proceedings. The Met contended that the criminal law test of self-defence applied. The IOPC maintained that the civil law test applied.
In May 2018, the IOPC directed the Met to start disciplinary proceedings. That direction was challenged by W80 in a judicial review claim that was taken all the way to the Supreme Court. At the first hearing of the case, the Divisional Court decided that the criminal law test applied. The Court of Appeal decided that neither the criminal law test nor the civil law test applied and that the test was simply the wording of the use of force standard in the police Standards of Professional Behaviour i.e. was the force used reasonable, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances. In its judgment on 5 July 2023, the Supreme Court decided that the civil law test applied. Read more: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2020-0208.html.
An independent public inquiry heard detailed evidence about the circumstances in which W80 shot and killed Mr Baker. In July 2022, the inquiry’s report was published and included a narrative conclusion. HHJ Clement Goldstone QC’s report found that “W80 shot Mr Baker because he honestly believed that Mr Baker posed a lethal threat and that it was reasonably necessary for him to shoot in order to defend himself” and that “Mr Baker was lawfully killed“.
In September 2022, the MPS wrote in detail to the IOPC inviting them to review and reconsider their direction.
On 29 September 2023, the IOPC maintained their direction that a gross misconduct hearing for W80 should be held.