Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, head of Central Operations and in charge of Firearms teams, said in response:
“Following the events of that morning, there has been much ill founded, premature and one sided comment made to the media leading to speculation regarding this operation and how a man came to be shot. Much of this was heavily critical of the MPS and could have damaged public confidence in us. We are pleased that the IPCC has now published their report and that we have an opportunity to set the record straight.
“We have always maintained that there were two sides to this story and today’s announcement and findings by the IPCC knocks down many of the
inaccurate and misleading statements that were previously made.
“In this case an independent forensic scientist has concluded that the weapon was within two inches of Abdulkahar when discharged and was not in a normal firing position. The IPCC has concluded there was no evidence that it was a deliberate act by the officer, or indeed no evidence of intent or recklessness. The report states that the officer has committed no criminal or disciplinary offences.
“We welcome these findings but recognise the impact that this incident has had on the local community and regret what was an accidental discharge that resulted in someone being injured.
“I would like to thank the IPCC for the swift and thorough way in which they have conducted this investigation. Their independence and the transparency that this report brings are vital for Londoners to continue to have confidence in the police that serve them and the bodies that hold us accountable. Any lessons to learn as a result of this IPCC investigation will be fully and properly considered.”
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Commenting on the Forest Gate operation Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur added:
“The main objective of the operation on the morning of 2nd June was to act on specific intelligence which raised serious concerns for the safety of the public, suggesting that a chemical explosive device was at an address in
Lansdown Road. Our response required comprehensive planning, and based on that intelligence had to be robust and needed an armed capability, which the IPCC concluded was fully justified. We believed that the only safe way was for those firearms officers to go inside the address wearing protective clothing.
“This is thought to be the first live operation where CBRN kit and firearms had to be jointly deployed. Despite what has been extensively reported, only fifteen officers initially entered and secured the address. The remainder of the officers were required to help keep the public safe, to staff cordons and to deal with road closures.
“The IPCC also state that the protective clothing worn was the most up to date available and whilst it inevitably carried some health and safety risks, all reasonable steps were taken to minimise these. They also concluded there was no grounds for a criminal offence to be brought under health and safety.
“Our firearms officers are some of the best trained in the world. We deploy them into some of the most difficult and dangerous scenarios within policing, which they volunteer to do on behalf of us all. Every one of my firearms officers knows that they are accountable for their actions and fully accepts that.
“Firearms officers respond to around 14,000 calls for armed support from the public and unarmed colleagues every year, they also carry out around fifty pre-planned operations every month.
“I make no excuses for the fact we acted upon that intelligence as no one can be in any doubt that the terrorist threat to the Capital remains very real. To not act on such intelligence would be entirely negligent of us and everyone in the Capital must be fully aware that the MPS will always do what we have to do in our fight against global terrorism to protect the public.
It is only with the support of all Londoners that we can continue to fight that threat. I do not shy away from the fact that we have learnt important lessons regarding community consultation and engagement from these events.
“We are committed to working tirelessly with all communities to secure the safety of us all. We continue to ask for communities support in making London safe, we ask that anyone with information or intelligence about terrorism to contact the Confidential Anti Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321, alternatively information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”