Two officers were made subject to a misconduct hearing organised by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) due to their respective roles in a botched training exercise that led to the death of PC Ian Terry, aged 32.
PC Terry, a father of two from Burnley, was shot dead during the firearms training exercise which took place on the 9th June 2008 in a disused factory premises on Thorp Road, Newton Heath, Manchester. The training exercise involved GMP’s Tactical Firearms Unit. It had been organised by one of the officers, who is known only as Francis, made subject to GMP’s misconduct hearing. The training exercise was determined to have lacked appropriate planning and was not authorised.
Francis pleaded guilty to gross misconduct on the first day of the misconduct hearing. It was then decided that Francis should be forced to resign with immediate effect. The officer who fired the fatal shot, known only to the press as Chris, was found guilty of gross misconduct. Chris was given a reprimand for their role played in the death of PC Terry. The panel focused on the risks that were posed by the training exercise and the failures in the organisation of GMP when they made their decision in respect of the officers.
The training exercise was a role play exercise intended to provide an opportunity to practice challenging and arresting the occupants of a vehicle suspected of committing serious offences. Playing the part of the suspected criminals, PC Terry and another colleague were situated in a Suzuki Vitara. Both officers were equipped with thick jackets, balaclavas, gloves, and special face masks. This clothing was intended to provide protection from possible paint round impacts. It was found that neither officer was provided with, and were not wearing, body armour.
Chris, whose role was to disable the vehicle by blowing out the tyres, ran to a space next to the front passenger door of the vehicle. Chris was equipped with a shotgun loaded with ‘Round Irritant Personnel (RIP)’ rounds. The rounds were filled with and inactive powder for the purposes of the training exercise. In a live operation they would ordinarily be filled with a CS incapacitant. RIP rounds are said to be able to penetrate materials such as thick timber, cell doors, and fire doors which have a thin steel plate on either side. Chris fired the shotgun at PC Terry from close range. PC Terry was struck in the left hand side of his chest and suffered fatal injuries.
The investigation as conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that that risk assessments completed in respect of the training exercise were unsatisfactory, the training exercise had not actually been authorised and that RIP rounds only been introduced to firearms training a week prior to the incident.
The IPCC were highly critical of the time it has taken for the disciplinary proceedings to be brought in this case. A commissioner for the IPCC, James Dipple-Johnstone stated;
“The IPCC investigation was concluded prior to the inquest into Pc Terry’s death in 2010 and the fact it has taken more than four years to reach this conclusion must have compounded the distress of Pc Terry’s family. Two officers have now been disciplined over their role in this tragedy. This training exercise was poorly planned and high risk. Everyone involved will have to live with the fact that a popular and well respected officer lost his life as a result of the mistakes made on that day.”
The delay came about as disciplinary proceedings, which were in response to the IPCC investigation and recommendations, were put on hold pending the outcome of an Inquest into the death of PC Terry and also a Health and Safety Prosecution against GMP.
GMP pleaded guilty at Court and received a fine for their failure to abide by the Health and Safety Act. Francis was also fined. GMP Chief Constable, Sir Peter Fahy, insisted that lessons had been learned from PC Terry’s death.
The Police and Crime Commission criticised the conduct of the IPCC for the time that it took for their investigation to be finalised. Commissioner Tony Lloyd described it as ‘insulting and unacceptable’ to the family. He also stated;
“The IPCC needs to change the way it goes about its business, or else the government needs to step in and put in place a regime which is fit for purpose.”
How we can help
At Farleys, our specialised Actions against the Police team have a great deal of experience in bringing claims against the police where they have acted inappropriately. We also have a team specialising in Inquests where a loved one may have died as a result of negligence and have represented many families in inquest proceedings concerning various failures that have led to tragic deaths. Preliminary hearings and the Inquest itself can be extremely daunting and overwhelming for family members who are also going through the grieving process. Our Inquest team is on hand to attend these meetings with you and put forward your concerns. We will guide you through the inquest process and ensure that you secure the answers to the many questions you will undoubtedly be faced with. We will also be able to fully advise you on any civil remedies you may have as a result of what has happened. For further information, to arrange a free initial consultation with a specialist inquest solicitor, or to speak to us about pursuing a claim against the Police, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us by email or call us on 0845 050 1958.