Fedster + 1,307 Posted September 24, 2020 Share Posted September 24, 2020 The public must be told that police helicopters cannot rescue people, the standards watchdog has ruled following a complaint from a Grenfell fire family member. Date - 23rd September 2020 By - Chris Smith The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has issued national recommendations to improve public understanding of police helicopter limitations. The IOPC began Operation Tronto in September 2017 after solicitors acting on behalf of Mr Nabil Choucair lodged a complaint. Six members of his family were among the 72 people who died in the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. His complaint shared the view among some families and friends of the victims that residents trapped in the building believed that the helicopter, operated by National Police Air Service (NPAS), was a rescue helicopter that had been deployed to rescue them from the top of the building. Their other concern was that operation of a helicopter in close proximity to the 25-storey building would have created a rotor wash, which worsened the fire. The investigation for the IOPC was led by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to ensure it did not conflict with the on-going criminal investigation by the force or the public inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick and the investigation by coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox. In the conclusions from the first stage of the public inquiry published in October last year, Sir Martin praised the work of the police officers who attended that night, most of whom were based at nearby Kensington police station. Individual officers were praised for their handling of the incident including riot police who used their shields to protect firefighters going into the burning building. His main criticism was the inability of London Fire brigade senior officers at the site to communicate with Metropolitan Police officers. Part of that problem included the fact that the pictures the helicopter transmitted could not be viewed by the LFB because the encryption was incompatible with its receiving equipment. He recommended that “the airborne datalink system on every NPAS helicopter observing an incident which involves one of the other emergency services defaults to the National Emergency Service user encryption”. The first helicopter arrived at 1:44am. The last deployment left the scene at 4:05pm, with near continuous presence in between these times. Telephone calls from residents who requested the police were responded to by MPS emergency call centres. Extensive analysis has been carried out on the calls made on the night of the fire. According to a Freedom of Information disclosure by the Metropolitan Police, the force paid particular attention to 26 calls made by people claiming to be flats above the eleventh floor. The IOPC concluded that some handlers did not directly respond to requests for helicopter rescue and some responses were unclear. It recommended that all emergency services call handlers must be aware that NPAS helicopters do not have rescue capabilities and must explicitly inform any callers who mention helicopter rescue during an incident to which NPAS is deployed. The investigation also found that the deployment of the helicopters was justified and that none of the helicopters flew close enough to the Tower for their rotor wash to have worsened the fire. IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “We offer and extend our deepest sympathies to Mr Choucair, all those who lost loved ones and the survivors whose lives have been changed forever. “While we did not uphold these complaints, we fully acknowledge that the matters raised by the complainant were valid and required investigation. Despite some examples of unclear communications, we found no evidence that any emergency call centre operators advised callers that helicopters would rescue them. “The recommendations we have made - and which have been accepted - aim to ensure that call operators communicate, to people who find themselves in similar horrific and life-threatening situations, the reality of the choices they have.” He hoped that the IOPC’s findings would at least give the families, friends and survivors better understanding of responsibility for the fire. He said: “We sincerely hope that the breadth of the investigation report provides some reassurance around the actions of police officers and their use of police helicopters in their response to the tragic events of 14 June 2017.” View On Police Oracle Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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