Police Commissioner expresses "personal sympathy" to family

Statement on the Azelle Rodney Inquiry from theCommissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe:

"The inquiry into the death of Azelle Rodney, who wasfatally shot by a Metropolitan Police Firearms Officer in 2005, has todaydecided that there was no lawful justification for the shooting. This is asignificant finding for the Metropolitan Police Service, whose officers striveon a daily basis to keep Londoners safe whilst acting within the law.

I have read the findings carefully and want to express mypersonal sympathy to Mr Rodney's family. The MPS deeply regrets his death, andI recognise how distressing the inquiry must have been for them.

Sir Christopher Holland makes three recommendations aboutthe way in which firearms operations such as this are reviewed and debriefed.The MPS accepts all of these. They include having the operation fully and thoroughlyreviewed, which DCC Simon Chesterman, the National Policing Lead on Firearmshas just completed. His report shows that the MPS does have a consistent trackrecord for improving our procedures. I can reassure Londoners that we do planour operations to confront the armed and dangerous so as to minimise whereverpossible the use of lethal force.

As the inquiry reports, in 2005 three men armed withguns, believed by officers at the time to include automatic weapons, set outacross London with the intention of robbing a group of Colombian criminals. Thecar they were in was followed and stopped, two men were arrested and laterconvicted of drugs and firearms offences; they subsequently went to prison.Azelle Rodney was fatally shot.

As a result of the finding that the firearms officerknown to the inquiry as E7 had no lawful justification for killing Mr Rodney,the Independent Police Complaints Commission has informed the MPS it will referthis case to the Crown Prosecution Service. The legal process must now beallowed to take its course, and it would clearly be inappropriate to commentfurther on the findings that relate directly to E7's split-second decisions in2005. The personal accountability of firearms officers is unparalleled.

The challenges facing firearms officers are serious. I amanxious that this report does not undermine the confidence of officers to actdecisively when making split-second decisions in the face of the most dangerouscriminals as recently seen in Woolwich. The MPS will need to review the impacton the way we train officers and conduct firearms operations.

Despite the 20% reduction in armed criminality in Londonlast year, armed officers respond annually to 3,000 incidents, and carry out anadditional 1200 planned operations. Largely unseen to eight million Londoners,four or five times every day, our officers draw their weapons to confrontdangerous criminals and incidents and yet our officers only fire shots once ortwice a year."