20th Oct, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Watchdog IPCC u-turns over 'racial' cop probe after 'you'd be the first one I'd shoot' jibe

Les Reid 28th Sep, 2017 Updated: 28th Sep, 2017

WATCHDOG the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had decided NOT to investigate a West Midlands policeman caught on film telling a black man, “You would be the first one I’d shoot if I had a gun,” we can exclusively reveal.

It follows this newspaper putting a series of questions to West Midlands Police concerning why he is still working for the force, after the video went viral on the internet.

The IPCC has now u-turned and confirmed to us it will investigate after all.

West Midlands Police two weeks ago issued a statement saying the “apologetic” officer had been “removed from frontline duties” pending an internal investigation, and added the force had referred the matter to the IPCC.

In the video which hit the national headlines, filmed by the black man Jack Chambers, 24, the officer is also heard to say during an exchange in a Coventry home: “You’re going to go Black Lives Matter on us, are ya?” His patrol team are seen smiling and laughing.

Amid a public outcry, we asked the police last week to confirm the officer was still working for the force rather than being suspended.

We also enquired about the timescale for the internal inquiry and any external inquiry by the IPCC.

West Midlands Police responded: “The matter was referred to the IPCC and following careful assessment they decided it was suitable for local investigation by West Midlands Police.

“The internal inquiry is ongoing and will be carried out as expeditiously as possible by the force’s Professional Standards Department.

“Yes the officer is still employed by West Midlands Police. The officer has been removed from frontline duties, he is not suspended.”

We asked if the force had considered a failure to suspend the officer pending investigation might be at odds with its disciplinary procedures and national ACAS guidance regarding potential gross misconduct.

West Midlands Police responded: “We always look to re-deploy officers rather than suspend them, this is in line with national guidance.

“We only suspend once the re-deployment option has been explored and found not to be suitable.

“In this case, the officer has been re-deployed from frontline duties and is carrying out meaningful work.”

We asked precisely which ‘national guidance’ the statement referred to. The force did not respond.

An initial statement on the police’s website on September 13 said of the video: “The constable is heard to make racial comments to a member of the public during a search of a premises in Coventry on 24 August.

“The force received an official complaint and referred the matter to the IPCC. Assistant Chief Constable Alex Murray said: ‘What was said was not right and the officer has been removed from frontline duties pending further assessment.

‘The officer has already expressed remorse and is very apologetic over his comments.

‘We expect the highest standards of behaviour from all our officers and staff, and we will always take complaints from members of the public seriously.”

In the video, Mr Chambers is heard to accuse the police of “climbing up the window like thieves” after they asked why no-one had opened the door to his friend’s house, where he was staying.

Mr Chambers has instructed Hudgell Solicitors, who had welcomed the previous announcement regarding both an internal and external IPCC review.

After our further enquiries yesterday (September 27), a West Midlands Police spokesman told us: “Following more detail from the complainant the matter was referred back to the IPCC for further assessment.”

A spokesman for the IPCC said: “A second complaint about this incident from another individual was referred to us by the force with new information. Following an assessment of that it was decided yesterday (Tuesday) that we should carry out an independent investigation.”

See today’s Editor’s Comment on our website and in paper.

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