Socialist Worker

Cops go free after black man dies

Issue No. 2693

Leon Briggs

Leon Briggs (Pic: inquest.org.uk)


The family of a black man who died in police custody is “devastated and outraged” that five police officers will not face disciplinary action.

Leon Briggs died in hospital on 4 November 2013 after he was detained and restrained by police in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Police detained Leon under section 136 of the Mental Health Act and restrained him on the street.

They took him to Luton police station and put him into a cell where he was further restrained.

After Leon became ­unresponsive, he was taken to hospital where he was ­pronounced dead.

The Crown Prosecution ­Service (CPS) decided in November 2018 that police officers would not be charged over Leon’s death.

But five police officers had still been due to face ­misconduct hearings.

Breaching

Three cops faced allegations of breaching the standards of professional behaviour in relation to the use of force.

All five also faced allegations of breaching standards relating to “duties and responsibilities”.

The misconduct cases have now collapsed.

Margaret Briggs, Leon’s mother, said, “As a family we are devastated and outraged at this decision.

“It is over six years since my son’s death and to be told that the officers will not face any public scrutiny is further denial of justice and accountability for Leon,” she said.

Cops and the police’s pet watchdog, the IOPC, have blamed each other for the collapse of the hearings.

Bedfordshire Police Federation chairman Jim Mallen said the misconduct hearing collapsed due to “numerous failings” by the IOPC.

He said they “meant the officers could not be guaranteed a fair hearing”.

Meanwhile, the IOPC said it was due to “the decision of Bedfordshire Police to offer no evidence”.

Anita Sharma, head of casework at the Inquest charity, called for a “radical overhaul of the complaint process”.

“Through no fault of their own, bereaved families are being consistently failed and traumatised by this faux system of ‘accountability’,” she said.

“It is deplorable that this disciplinary hearing has been stopped before it even started. The fact that no officer will be held to account for potential wrongdoing demonstrates the inadequacy of the police complaints process and ineffectiveness of the IOPC.

“The lack of independence is startling in a flawed system which allows a force to decide whether or not to present a case against its own officers.

“The obstructive actions of the police and their representatives from the outset significantly contributed to the excessive delays.”


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