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Supreme court rule on police conduct law and dismiss appeal of officer who shot Jermaine Baker

Judges also call for clarity over police code of ethics

The supreme court has today dismissed an appeal from the officer who fatally shot Jermaine Baker, and ruled that the civil law test on the use of force applies to police conduct decisions.

This is the end of a long legal case by the firearms officer, known as W80, who was seeking to challenge the decision of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to bring gross misconduct proceedings against them.

W80 will now face professional misconduct proceedings. The judgment confirms that the decision on W80’s use of force must be based on the civil law test, not the higher criminal law test.

The case was brought because the initial investigation into Jermaine’s death by the IOPC’s predecessor (the IPCC) concluded that W80’s belief that he was in imminent danger when he chose to shoot Jermaine was honestly held, but unreasonable. Therefore, they found W80 had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

INQUEST and StopWatch were invited to make contributions to the supreme court case.

Police officers do not have a license to kill. Any use of police force must be justified and proportionate. Where there are concerns with police conduct, it is paramount that they are publicly held to account.
Despite the best attempts of W80 and those supporting the firearms officer who killed Jermaine Baker, this judgment is a comprehensive dismissal of the long running attempts to evade accountability.
For Jermaine’s family, we must now see an urgent disciplinary hearing on W80’s conduct. For the public and other families or individuals impacted by police use of force, this judgment must strengthen the systems of accountability.
Holding police accountable for their actions is vital to enable justice for bereaved people, and to inform much needed systemic change.
Anita Sharma, INQUEST, head of casework

We welcome the ruling and commend the judges for requiring a level of scrutiny regarding police conduct that we should expect all forces to comply with.
This decision sends the message that the justice system does indeed uphold a common sense standard of justice for regulating officers’ behaviours and actions, which in turn may help to restore the public's waning faith in fair and accountable policing.
We also encourage the College of Policing to heed the court’s call for clarity and coherence regarding their Code of Ethics, in order that all officers know their use of force can only be applied in a reasonable and proportionate manner, and only when the circumstances truly necessitate it.
Habib Kadiri, StopWatch UK, executive director

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