THE Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that it would deliver in January its report on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station last July, and it has kept that undertaking. The report was duly delivered this week to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). What does it say? We don't know and may not know until after the proceedings stemming from it are completed. That could take years. Under the Police Reform Act of 2002 the IPCC sends its findings to the CPS if the report indicates that a criminal offence may have been committed. The CPS will probably decide to prosecute if it concludes there is a greater than 50 per cent chance of conviction; however, it will also have to be satisfied that the public interest would not be harmed by putting on trial police officers involved in a national security operation. It is thought that ten police oficers have been named in the IPCC report, among them Commander Cressida Dick, the senior officer with responsibility for deciding whether the threat to security posed by Mr de Menezes justified the use of hitherto secret shoot-to-kill tactics. In the event he was shown to have been the innocent victim of a series of policing errors culminating in his killing in an underground train carriage. A central feature of any trial is likely to be the extent to which officers required to make splitsecond decisions can be reasonably judged by normal legal criteria; many members of the public may feel that they should have protection, even in times of security alerts, from armed police acting without due caution. This latter consideration is strengthened if, as seems to be the case, Army marksmen were working closely with the police at Stockwell on the day that Mr de Menezes was killed. There is a second report, known as Stockwell 2, due from the IPCC that will concern the actions of Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police's commissioner, on the day after the shooting when he is believed to have tried to ensure that any enquiry would be undertaken internally rather than by the IPCC. The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, vetoed this idea immediately.
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