Two Metropolitan Police officers who were bravely responding to the terrorist attack in Streatham have been left dumbstruck after being told they are under investigation by the policing watchdog for their actions that day.
In a move described as “astonishing“ by the Metropolitan Police Federation, the armed police officers now face their jobs being in jeopardy as the Independent Office for Police Conduct probes their work as they navigated their vehicles through London’s busy streets to assist colleagues who confronted terrorist Sudesh Amman.
As the male officers – who are not being named by the Federation – travelled in convoy with flashing blue lights and two-tone sirens towards the chaotic and dangerous scene in South London on the afternoon of Sunday 2 February, an unmarked police car being driven by one of them was involved in an accident with another vehicle.
All involved in the accident including the officer were injured.
The other officer being investigated by the IOPC was behind the wheel of a second marked Armed Response Vehicle which carried on to the incident in Streatham to keep the public safe.
Immediately after the incident Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute “to the speed and bravery of the police who responded and confronted the attacker”.
But now, one month on, as a result of the IOPC handing “papers” to these officers, their duties are now restricted and they are not allowed to drive police vehicles while the investigation into their conduct – which could take months or even years – is carried out.
The move has outraged Metropolitan Police officers.
“The public will be appalled when they hear that brave police officers responding to a terrorist attack can be treated in such a manner,” said Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation.
“What kind of message does this send? These officers and their colleagues put their lives on the line that day to protect the public. Now potentially their careers are on the line. It’s absurd. A complete joke.
“Our colleagues did not know what danger they were travelling towards as the information emerged in real time about stabbings and threats of a suicide vest and explosives. Yet without hesitation they drove towards that danger. Because that’s what police officers do.
“And yet now their careers are at risk as the hindsight brigade decide to justify their existence. These people need to understand the split-second and dynamic decisions police officers have to take.”
Ken called on the IOPC and its investigators to have some “empathy and understanding of the incredibly difficult and dangerous job police officers’ undertake”.
He added: “No one is saying that police officers should not be scrutinised or that their actions should not be accountable – but the last thing officers responding to a terrorist attack should be worrying about is whether their prompt response and bravery will put their livelihoods in danger.
“I am rarely astonished but this is truly astonishing.
“We are of course supporting our colleagues at this very difficult time and call on the IOPC to think again about what they are doing and what message their actions send to police officers. And importantly to the public we serve and protect.”