Met chief backs armed police over Chris Kaba protest as army set to step in

24 September 2023, 21:10 | Updated: 25 September 2023, 09:47

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (left) has said armed police officers fear legal action in a new open letter after a serving cop was charged with the murder of Chris Kaba.
Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (left) has said armed police officers fear legal action in a new open letter after a serving cop was charged with the murder of Chris Kaba. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has said armed police fear legal action after a serving officer was charged with the murder of Chris Kaba.

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Sir Mark also welcomed the review announced by the Home Secretary into why officers are handing in their guns after the charge.

The commissioner said in an open letter: "There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family. While previous reviews have been announced, they have not delivered change.

"Carrying a firearm is voluntary. We rely on officers who are willing to put themselves at risk on a daily basis to protect the public from dangerous criminals, including terrorists.

Sir Mark Rowley has waded into the row about the charge of murder against a serving firearms officer.
Sir Mark Rowley has waded into the row about the charge of murder against a serving firearms officer. Picture: Getty

"Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour."

Sir Mark's intervention comes after it was announced that military forces could be drafted in to help police as the protests from armed officers intensified.

Mr Kaba was killed by a single bullet in a shooting in Streatham Hill on September 6 last year. He was unarmed.

The father-to-be's death sparked protests against the police, led by his family.

Armed officers have now started their own protest, with some concerned about how the charge affects them, their colleagues, and families.

A Met Police spokesperson said: "The Ministry of Defence has agreed to a request to provide the Met with counterterrorism support should it be needed.

"This is a contingency option that would only be used in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available.

"Armed forces personnel will not be used in a routine policing capacity. We will keep the need for the support under constant review."

One armed police officer, who is on "reflective leave", told LBC that senior figures at the Met are not supportive enough and have taken a "combative" stance against protestors.

"We understand as armed officers in London that if we have to take that ultimate action that justice has to be seen to be done, and that our actions will come under the most forensic of scrutiny," he told LBC.

"However, under Mark Rowley and the senior leadership team, we are just not getting the right level of support to be able to do that job.

"It's almost being treated with detriment that we've decided to take this period of reflection and so in terms of being supporting and listening to us, that's not correct I'm afraid."

Home Secretary Suella Braverman intervened earlier today, expressing her support for those on "reflective leave".

"Officers risking their lives to keep us safe have my full backing and I will do everything in my power to support them," the home secretary said.

"That’s why I have launched a review to ensure they have the confidence to do their jobs while protecting us all."

This police officer tells of the lack of 'support' for Met officers

The MoD has offered armed officers to the Met as a contingency plan
The MoD has offered armed officers to the Met as a contingency plan. Picture: Getty

"We are in ongoing discussions with those officers to support them and to fully understand the genuinely held concerns that they have," a Met spokesperson said.

"The Met has a significant firearms capability and we continue to have armed response teams deployed in communities across London to keep the public safe."

Read More: Armed cops in Met Police hand in weapons in protest after officer charged with murder of Chris Kaba

Protests erupted after Chris Kaba's death
Protests erupted after Chris Kaba's death. Picture: Alamy

"We are in ongoing discussions with those officers to support them and to fully understand the genuinely held concerns that they have," the Met spokesperson added.

"The Met has a significant firearms capability and we continue to have armed response teams deployed in communities across London to keep the public safe."

Read More: Police officer charged with murdering Chris Kaba released on bail

Raed More: Police officer charged with murder after shooting of Chris Kaba in south London

Sir Mark Rowleysaid he understood why officers had taken the decision to reflect on "such weighty responsibilities".

"Our firearms officers... are not only prepared to confront the armed and dangerous to protect London's communities but they do so recognising the uniquely intense and lengthy personal accountability they will face for their split-second operational decisions," Sir Mark said in a statement.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley. Picture: Getty

"I understand why many of them are reflecting on the potential price of such weighty responsibilities.

"Bravery comes in many forms. When officers have the levels of uncertainty and worry I saw in my colleagues today, simply going in and doing their jobs not knowing what incidents are ahead of them is courageous."

The police officer who was charged with Mr Kaba's murder has not been named publicly.

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