Decision to charge officer with Chris Kaba murder ‘should be reviewed’

Armed Police on duty
The UK's armed police refused to carry weapons over the weekend in protest against one of their peers being charged with murder - Jeremy Selwyn

The decision to charge a firearms officer with the murder of Chris Kaba should be reviewed, a former minister has said, as the outcry over the case escalated.

A former Home Office minister said the case had undermined the police’s confidence in the institutions that judge their actions.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)  also came in for criticism because of a perceived lack of scrutiny of its work.

A large number of the Metropolitan Police’s armed response officers refused to carry weapons over the weekend in response to the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) decision to charge their unnamed colleague with murdering Kaba in September last year.

‘It’s difficult for police officers’

On Monday, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said that police need “clarity” about their legal powers to use lethal force.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has ordered a review of armed policing, but some of her colleagues have suggested any review should include decisions made by the CPS and IOPC.

One former Home Office minister said: “I do think there is a problem with the CPS,” adding: “The Home Secretary needs to make sure the police are being backed and supported by the CPS.

“We have to have confidence in those institutions that are looking at the police and if there are any grey areas, it’s difficult for police officers.

“I’m not completely sold on the IOPC as it currently stands either. Such bodies should always be under scrutiny.”

The former minister suggested that a former high-ranking officer, such as Andy Cooke, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and a former chief constable of Merseyside Police, should be asked to review the Kaba case.

The ex-minister said: “I think a potential option is to bring in someone like Andy Cooke, who is a former police chief, to review what has happened and to ask some serious questions about how we have ended up in this situation and what measures can we take to protect the police, because this is about empowering police to do their job.”

What happens when an armed officer shoots someone?
What happens when an armed officer shoots someone?

Other former ministers in departments dealing with law and order were more cautious.

Sir Robert Buckland, the former justice secretary, said: “The police are civilians in uniform and we have rules in place to ensure they police by consent.

“The idea that you can have one law for the police and one law for the rest of us is not the basis of policing in the UK.”

Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, the former director of public prosecutions, said: “It’s been referred to the CPS, the evidence has been considered and the CPS has made their decision.

“I have no doubt an extremely careful process has been followed through.”

Kaba, 24, a rapper known as Madix or Mad Itch, was shot in the head through the windscreen of an Audi in Streatham Hill, south London, a year ago.

Armed officers in an unmarked car had been following the vehicle, which was said to have been linked to a firearms incident the day before.

Chris Kaba
Chris Kaba

The officer who is alleged to have murdered him, named only as NX121, was bailed after appearing in court last week. A further hearing will determine whether his name will be released to the public.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Firearms officers do an extremely challenging job, making split-second decisions to keep the British public safe each and every day. They have our full support.

“It is crucial that they are able to use their powers with legal certainty and clarity.

“That’s why we are reviewing the framework and processes in place.

“We are mindful of ongoing cases and we will not be commenting further.”