Met firearms officers face fresh disciplinary hearing over ‘shoot records’

Two police officers who were based at the Met’s MO19 specialist firearms command must face a fresh disciplinary hearing after complaints about “shoot records”, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Mostyn was told that, in 2019, Sergeant Hayley Russell had “falsified” shoot records and Pc Christopher Strickland had “falsified the authorisation”.

A police disciplinary panel had made “gross misconduct” findings but decided that “only a final written warning would be given to both officers”, he heard.

Metropolitan Police bosses had mounted a High Court challenge to that decision.

Mr Justice Mostyn on Friday upheld that challenge, after a High Court hearing in London, and ruled that another disciplinary panel should reconsider the officers’ cases.

He said the “sanctions decision” in Pc Strickland’s case had been reached by an “unlawful” process and the “sanctions decision” in Sergeant Russell’s case was “irrational”.

Mr Justice Mostyn said evidence suggested that, in 2019, compliance with a standard operating procedure had been “to put it mildly, disturbingly lax”.

“It also suggests that the falsification or non-completion of shoot reclassification records with which this case is concerned, was not an isolated incident,” said the judge.

“Considerable evidence was given at the misconduct hearing about a ‘highly dysfunctional training regime’.”

He added: “I have been told that since then systems have been overhauled and that such laxity is a thing of the past. I hope this is true.”

Mrs Justice Mostyn outlined detail of the case in a written ruling.

“The case before me concerns false firearms reclassification shoot records on, and false authorisations for, two types of firearm – the Glock pistol and the Sig MCX carbine,” he said

“In November 2019, PS Hayley Russell falsified the shoot records and PC Christopher Strickland falsified the authorisation.”

Senior officers alleged that both had breached the “honesty and integrity” and the “discreditable conduct” standards of professional behaviour.

A disciplinary panel found allegations against both officers proven and “held that they amounted to gross misconduct”.

The judge said a “gross misconduct” finding meant that “dismissal would be justified”.

He added: “However, the panel directed that only a final written warning would be given to both officers.”