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Force asked to apologise after 'horrifying disregard for the use of firearms'


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Officers accused of acting like 'Keystone cops' as report blasts armed response tactics.

Critical report: Nine firearms officers being deployed on seven separate occasions

Critical report: Nine firearms officers being deployed on seven separate occasions

Date - 9th August 2018
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
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Policing in the aftermath of terror attacks across the UK saw armed officers engage in “completely unwarranted” actions as they pointed guns at innocent bystanders in a fast-moving response that bordered on farce.

A highly-critical report has called on Police Scotland to apologise to eight individuals for 90 minutes of mayhem where highly-trained authorised firearms’ officers raced around the streets of Edinburgh acting like “Keystone cops on a wild goose chase”.

Last summer, the Scottish capital witnessed one man forced out of his home in pyjamas under arrest, two women strip-searched and detained for 24 hours without legal basis – and claims of weapons aimed at eleven people on four occasions which the force denies.

The force, despite facing a barrage of criticism from report authors the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner – praised its officers’ professionalism while accepting not everything was “handled well”.

The operations in the early hours of July 22 saw four armed response vehicles and nine firearms officers being deployed on seven separate occasions on the basis of “uncorroborated” and most likely “bogus” information made by an unidentified man, alleges human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar.

He told Police Oracle: “The PIRC investigation exposes a catalogue of failures and a horrifying disregard for the use of firearms, which could easily have resulted in the death of an innocent member of public.

“What is truly shocking is that nine officers deployed their weapons despite not being authorised to do so.

“There is no point in robust regulations or demands for more armed officers, if the ones we have fail to obey the rules.”

PIRC’s formal report adds: “A number of these people were detained and searched on the strength principally of allegations made by an unidentifiable male and this action in a number of instances appears to have been entirely unwarranted.”

Events, which began just after midnight, last under an hour-and-a-half. Armed officers police detained a man in a building before searching his flat and his car.

The independent watchdog said the “balance of probabilities” indicated AFOs pointed their weapons at him and other residents in the stairwell of the building.

It added there appeared to be “no legitimate basis for Police Scotland to suspect that the man had any involvement” and that officers who searched his home and car appeared to lack the lawful authority to do so.

ARVs later blocked two cars – an Audi and Peugeot – with five occupants who were all deemed suspects.

Three men claimed officers pointed assault weapons at them in a retail park at Seafield Road and ordered them to get out of their vehicles with their hands up. The officers later denied pointing their firearms at the men.

One of the two women in the Peugeot describes how she “saw the gun's red dot on her chest".

The group were all taken from the cars at gunpoint and detained.

The PIRC report said: "Despite there being no evidence to connect the two women to any offence, they were kept in police custody for almost 24 hours, during which time they were strip-searched.”

They were later released without charge.

The PIRC report found that the only evidence at that time to connect any of the five people detained, to any of the previous incidents, was that of the unidentified man.

The three men were charged with threatening and abusive behaviour but the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ordered their release from custody, and subsequently no criminal proceedings have been brought against them.”

The report recommends the force apologises for the actions of its officers and provides “a clear rationale” for the apologies, examines and investigates the individual actions of the officers named in the full PIRC report, ensures that all officers in charge of or who form part of any firearms operations apply the National Decision Model’s principles, ensures that all ‘firearms incidents’ are identified and declared, to allow the Chief Constable to comply with his duties in terms of the Police Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, and finally it reports back to Commissioner Kate Frame within three months on actions taken.

Chief Superintendent Matt Richards, the force’s head of specialist services, said the incident had precipitated “time-critical decision-making”, adding that the officers were all “acting in good faith in what was a difficult and fast-moving situation”.

But he admitted: "It is clear that on this occasion it was not handled well."

The force has implemented a “thorough” review following the incident and a number of measures have been put in place to address the issues that have now been identified by the PIRC.

He added: "We are also writing to the individuals involved to apologise and I want to do that again publicly now."

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For those who prefer a more authoritative source than this excitable human rights lawyer, the PIRC's report can be found here

Edited by Sceptre
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Would human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar have apologised to all those that might have otherwise be injured if the police hadn't have taken the actions they felt necessary during another outrage at that time?

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Luckily firearms dont just discharge without human input, sonthe chance of someone being killed was still pretty low. 

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