London anti-terror raid police criticised for not wearing body cameras

Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent
Police on the street in north-west London where the raid took place. Photograph: Matthew Chattle/Rex/Shutterstock

The lawyer for a woman shot during a raid by an elite counter-terrorism unit has criticised the officers for not wearing body cameras to record the operation.

The 21-year-old was shot last Thursday during the storming of a house in Willesden, north-west London.

After being treated in hospital for three days she was arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, as were eight other people.

The incident is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The police watchdog issued its first substantive statement on its inquiry on Thursday but declined to say whether the woman shot was armed or not. “We are unable to verify that information at this stage,” an IPCC spokesperson said.

In several previous police shooting cases the IPCC had said by this stage whether a gun had been found.

The raid on the property on Harlesden Road was carried out by counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers, and it is believed to be the first time they have opened fire during an operation.

The Metropolitan police have said they want as many officers as possible to wear body cameras so investigations into contentious operations can be speeded up by video recordings of events.

Imran Khan, the solicitor for the woman shot during the raid, said: “It is concerning that … firearms officers were not wearing body-worn video.

“Officers should ensure they have a body-worn video for their protection and the public’s, so we know what happened. What explanation is there for not wearing body cameras?”

The explanation appears to be that the deployment of armed officers began as a covert operation. Video recorded by witnesses shows five loud bangs as officers fire CS gas into the property and later shoot the woman. Their deployment in the area had started before this video and as yet police chiefs have not found a way to give covert officers cameras discreet enough not to blow their cover.

The Met said in a statement: “The Metropolitan police service (MPS) is also now able to deploy counter-terrorism specialist firearms officer (CTSFO) teams with body-worn video when their deployment is overt. The MPS is still working on a solution that allows for the use of body-worn video when these officers are carrying out covert operations.

“This work will continue as it is of huge benefit to the officers and can have a positive impact on public confidence.”

Specialist entry techniques were used in the raid, which followed a joint MI5 and police operation with the house placed under observation as investigators believed an active attack plot was being planned and might be close to being enacted.

The IPCC’s deputy chair, Sarah Green, said: “As well as gathering physical evidence and accounts from those officers involved we are also looking to establish details around the planning of the operation and in particular the briefing provided to the officers prior to their deployment to the address.

“We have not yet spoken to any non-police witnesses, many of whom are linked to a counter-terrorism operation being conducted by the Metropolitan police.

“The position remains that no police officer is under investigation as we continue to establish the details of what happened.”

Magistrates have granted warrants of further detention lasting up to seven days for six women arrested, including the woman who was shot. Three people – a boy aged 16 and two men aged 21 and 28 – have been released without charge.

Those still in custody include two women aged 20 and 21, both arrested on 27 April at Harlesden Road, and a 43-year-old woman arrested on the same date in Kent.

The other three women – two 18-year-olds and a 19-year-old – were arrested on 1 May in east London.

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