Procedures of Law Enforcement in Cases of Suicide Terrorism: Case of De Menezes And Hussain Osman
This assignment will examine how the police handled the case of Jean Charles De Menezes, highlighting the benefits of their chosen approach and related consequences. The implications of this case and improvements which have developed thereafter will also be discussed.
Police response is the action taken to resolve a case reported to a body of officer(s), responsible for maintaining law enforcement (Police Science, 2020). It is important for the police to respond to any situation effectively, to ensure that they are not in a position where they could potentially be in breach of The Human Rights Act 1998 (Lewis, 2020). If situations are not dealt with effectively, it may have a detrimental, long-lasting impact on those involved (e.g. lack of empirical evidence leading to an unjust conviction). The public may also lose confidence and trust in their ability to handle cases, thus may be less likely to report crimes, impacting the number of investigations carried out by the police (HMICFRS, 2018). Effective handling of terrorism cases is important; these cases tend to be motivated by either a political, religious or cultural cause (Golder and George, 2004). The consequences of terrorism may increase public fear, create job shortages and negatively impact the economy (Harris, 2016). It is therefore important that police response is prompt and effective, to minimize the consequences related to these cases.
On the 22nd July 2005, Jean Charles De Menezes an innocent 27-year-old electrician who was mistaken as a terrorist was shot seven times by armed officers. This situation occurred after officers were searching for offenders who attempted to carry out a bomb attack in London the day before, two weeks after the bombs that took place in London which resulted in 52 people dead. Prior to the killing of De Menezes, the police tracked a gym card that was found in a bag which also had possession of the unsuccessful bomb to an address at Scotia Road, London. This was believed to be linked back to an alleged terrorist named Hussain Osman, who shared the same accommodation as De Menezes (Tuner, 2017).
In this case, a lead officer brought up a strategy and advised that anyone who leaves the address should be stopped by armed officers for an identity check, once they have walked a short distance away from the sight of others (Siddique 2016). However, in this situation due to delays from the firearms team, officers were unable to stop individuals leaving the address. This led onto officers mistakenly targeting De Menezes as they mistakenly identified him as Hussain Osman, this occurred as the surveillance officer who was observing the address believed that De Menezes was Hussain Osman as he was the first male that was described as a potential suicide bomber and looked similar to Osman. Surveillance officers allowed him to get onto a bus travelling towards Stockwell station. This shows that there was an unconscious bias as they let him onto a bus full of innocent people although they believed him to be a suicide bomber (Siddique, 2016).
One report state that there was lack of communication between the surveillance team and the armed officers. This is because the surveillance team entered the same bus as De Menezes, which means that if they believed De Menezes to be a threat, they would not have entered the same bus as him (Kirkup, 2005). In this case the armed police fired at De Menezes, shooting him on his head killing him. This shows that the armed police believed him to be a threat, whereas the surveillance team did not believe him to be a threat. The armed police shot De Menezes because he walked towards them after they warned him that they were the armed police. However, one witness who was on the same train as De Menezes, stated that they did not hear the police shout a warning stating that they are the armed police nor did they witness De Menezes walk towards the police (IPCC, 2007). This shows that officers were not honest when dealing with the situation and shows a lack of professionalism at the time of the case.
A contingency plan is a strategy put in place to tackle potential incidents if or when they do occur in the future. This allows the police to be prepared for these incidents and would allow them to tackle incidents effectively (Runge-Ranzinger S and McCall PJ, et al., 2016). Considering that the case of De Menezes took place after the London bombing and the police targeted a suicide bomber who failed to detonate a bomb, there was no contingency plan put in place. This shows that the police were not prepared for this situation (IPCC, 2007) as the police did not take into consideration that the bomber may be a threat to the public as in this case De Menezes travelled on public transport, so if a contingency plan was put in place officers would have dealt with him once he stepped out of his home which could have resulted in a better outcome.
While investigation was taking place by the surveillance team, they were given photos of the suspect (Hussain Osman), however this photo was unclear, because of this there was uncertainty on how the suspect actually looked like throughout the investigation. While surveillance officers waited for the suspect to leave his address, one surveillance officer known as Frank had the responsibility to video record the suspect as he left the property in order to confirm this is the correct person. As De Menezes walked out of the flat, Frank was urinating as a result he was unable to video him leaving his flat. This led onto officers not being able to make a comparison between the suspect and the person leaving the flat, which led onto them targeting De Menezes assuming he was Hussain Osman (IPCC, 2007). This shows that the response taken by the police was harmful because it was based on assumptions rather than empirical evidence.
A major incident was defined by the cabinet office as any incident which contains a variety of crucial outcomes that necessitates special implementations by one or more emergency services (Blackwell, 2012). A critical incident is a situation which the police respond to, which may have an impact on the confidence of the public, the victim and their families (College of Policing, 2013). The case of De Menezes can be classed as a major incident as well as a critical incident, due to the fact that in this case the police needed to carry out special operations and needed to use a wide range of resources (firearms team and surveillance team), to what they usually use, and this case also impacted the public’s confidence and also had a negative effect on De Menezes family. This means that both aspects of a major incident and a critical incident were implemented in the case of De Menezes.
In the case of De Menezes officers were given training and were briefed based on the fact that the suspect was a suicide bomber. This resulted in firearm officers being in the mind state that they are going to be dealing with a suicide bomber (IPCC, 2007). This means to determine whether the amount of force used was acceptable within a situation should not be determined by considering the results of the situation, but by taking into consideration the facts the officers understood about the situation. In the case of De Menezes, officers were not prosecuted because of their actions and this can be because of the facts they understood about the situation (Clapham, 2017).
Although warnings are not specifically mandatory by law, where possible, officers should distribute a warning to a suspect. A warning can identify a person’s criminal behavior and clarify to them that if they do not stop, the officer will be required to arrest them (College of policing, 2013). In the case of De Menezes, officers did not shout out warnings to the suspect as they believed the suspect to be a suicide bomber armed with a bomb. The officers carried out a crucial shooting in order to take out the suspect to protect the innocent people around.
In the situation of De Menezes, officers were in a difficult situation and had to make a quick response when taking action. Since the appearance of suicide bombing, officers in the UK were training and learning about new incident management procedures. These new training programmes included new techniques, strategies and equipment (Squires, 2015). One key new approach in dealing with suicide terrorism was a method called operation kratos, which allows firearms officers to shoot suspected suicide bombers on the head in order to ensure explosives from the body do not detonate (Squires, 2015). Officers in the case of De Menezes were instructed to carry out this method, which means that although they had little communication between the surveillance team, they had to take into consideration that this was a terrorist, and in that moment in time, shooting him was the most appropriate action to carry out in order to keep the public safe. Also, the armed police are only able to fire at a suspect if they believe him to be a threat to life and shooting the suspect will prevent the action from carrying out (College of policing, 2013).
This means that as operation kratos is precisely targeted against suicide bombers, officers will always assume that they are dealing with a suicide bomber. This means that the threat they are faced with my not always be the level of threat that they believe they are faced with (Casciani, 2007). In the case of De Menezes this tactic of going against a suicide bomber was used against an innocent person, which shows that they carried out an action based on assumptions.
Officers who come across an incident are required to carry out an instant risk assessment of the event. Depending on the circumstances of the situation, the officer may have little or more time than usual to do this. In all situations, officers are able to use the National Decision Model (NDM) in order to come up with a decision. The NDM guides officers with information about the situation, intelligence, the legal powers officers have and the options available to the officer. When responding to a situation, the risk assessment carried out by officers must start by bringing together existing information and information collected by the intelligence team on the way to the scene (College of policing, 2013). Due to the lack of communication between the intelligence team and the firearms team, the risk assessment was not shared effectively between both teams which led to a misunderstanding and the killing of an innocent person was the result of this.
Officers in the UK are faced with constant change and resources are always reducing. They also need to handle a growing number of requests, as well as dealing with difficult and emotionally challenging tasks and in some cases the number of officers have been significantly decreased. Most officers responding to these challenging situations and also dealing with disturbing and shocking scenes may start to experience anxiety and depression. This work-related strain could cause officers to deal with situations inefficiently due to them experiencing anxiety and depression as they may feel powerless when being confronted with a suspect (Home Office, 2017).This is one of the issues in the case of De Menezes as the armed officers shot at him seven times at a close range which shows that officers had a lot of anger and anxiety when dealing with the De Menezes.
In regard to officers experiencing depression and anxiety which is affecting the handling and response to situations. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have set up guidelines for supervisors and organisations such as the police in order to deal with work related strain. The HSE suggest organisations to get supervisors and team leaders to work with colleagues in order to establish the main causes of the difficulties faced and come up with strategies to decrease or solve problems. The HSE also advises supervisors to have a variety of interpersonal skills in order to communicate and build stronger relations with colleagues and staff (College of Policing, 2018).
Some police forces have made some effective changes since the case of De Menezes. One of the approaches introduced by a police force was the method called THRIVE. THRIVE stands for Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation opportunities, Vulnerability of the casualty and the amount of Engagement needed in order to resolve a situation. THRIVE is used in order to evaluate each individual situation, so that organisations can decide on what actions should be taken in order to deal with a certain situation. This is important as it allows the police to come up with an appropriate response to each individual incident instead of having one approach to fit all circumstances (North Yorkshire Police, 2020).
When police are working to respond and handle situations effectively, they usually see investigations as the most important and efficient method in order to provide the best response and handling of a situation. However, these lead onto more important methods such as working with the community and building relations with the community as a low priority. Improving relations with the public can have a major impact on the way police respond and handle situations as this would build up public confidence and allow the public to share ideas and approaches with the police (Brogden and Nijhar, 2005). If the police communicated with the public in the case of De Menezes, they could have identified the right suspect and ensure the operation was targeted at the correct suspect as they could have spoken to people that know De Menezes and Hussain Osman well.
Police are now sharing relevant data with a wide range of organisations such as government departments, devolved parliaments and local authorities. By sharing information about individuals who can possibly cause a threat will allow the police to improve their capability to evaluate the risk the individual can cause. Also, as a wider range of organisations are involved, the police are able to use a broad range of strategies, such as protecting those in threat of radicalisation or disengage those who have assisted or took part in terrorist linked activities with others (HM Government, 2018).If the police shared information with other organisations such as the local authority they would have acknowledged that there are other individuals who share the same building as the suspected terrorist and would have been more cautious when carrying out the operation.
The police use a method called covert policing which is when the person or people that are being investigated by the police investigation are not aware that they are being investigated. Covert investigation techniques involve using undercover police officers and citizens sharing information relevant for the investigation. With the police using citizens to share information, they are able to get correct and more precise information about the suspect. The police also gather information through the suspects mobile phone and watching emails etc (Sharpe, 2002). This would have allowed the police to understand exactly where the suspect Hussain Osman was at the time of the operation in order to target the correct suspect and not shoot an innocent person.
Overall, the way in which the police responded and handled the situation of Jean Charles De Menezes was not of good standard. Seeing as prior to the case of De Menezes there was a number of terrorist incidents and failed attempts to detonate bombs, the planning was not good and more should have been done in order to ensure officers were well prepared. There was poor communication between all members and there was no clear picture of who the suspect was which resulted in the police mistakenly killing an innocent person. However, the firearms team did go to the scene with the information that they were going to face a suicide bomber which means that firearms team dealt with the situation the way they were trained to. Since the case of De Menezes there has been some changes put in place and the police have developed strategies in order to ensure that they target the correct suspect. Working with the public will allow the police to ensure they get correct information and ensure they target the correct suspect.
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