Full statement from Northumbria police following IPCC criticism of force's Raoul Moat investigation (From The Northern Echo)
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Force also responds to criticism of how it cared for PC David Rathband
Updated 10:57am Monday 6th January 2014 in News
DEPUTY Chief Constable Steve Ashman, of Northumbria Police, said: "Our thoughts continue to be with Sally Brown and the family and friends of Christopher Brown who was murdered by Raoul Moat; Christopher has been forgotten by so many people.
After thorough consideration of the evidence for six days, HM Coroner Mr Terence Carney found that Christopher Brown was unlawfully killed by Raoul Moat and that the precise risk which Moat presented was not known.
HM Coroner acknowledged that the actions of the police officers involved did not in any way cause or contribute to the death of Christopher Brown.
It is therefore grossly unfair and inconsistent with the findings of HM Coroner for the IPCC Commissioner to suggest that officers were reluctant to act to protect Samantha Stobbart or Christopher Brown since the evidence before HM Coroner demonstrates the lengths those officers went to determine the identity of Moat’s intended victim.
Furthermore, had the IPCC believed that the Northumbria Police officers had acted in dereliction of duty is it surprising that the IPCC did not say so in its Report on the matter. The IPCC Report into the case was flawed in a number of respects, not least that it had very limited access to the prison intelligence and was thus basing its opinions on only partial information.
By contrast, HM Coroner carried out a very full inquiry attended by counsel for all parties and where witnesses were cross-examined at length. The information received by Northumbria Police came from Durham Prison just after 3 pm on Friday 2 July 2010 (more than 28 hours after Moat was released from prison).
The information received by Northumbria Police was very limited and did not indicate:
(i) any real or immediate threat to the life of anyone;
(ii) any imminent threat to anyone;
(iii) any threat to Christopher Brown or any partner of Moat’s former girlfriends;
(iv) that Moat had access to firearms;
(v) the name of any intended victim.
“Northumbria Police always seeks to learn lessons and make improvements whenever we can. Indeed, since these tragic events we have – as the coroner acknowledged - improved the way intelligence is handled between the prison service and police forces regionally as well as making changes to our internal systems to improve the way information is co-ordinated at all times.
“The person responsible for Christopher’s murder was Raoul Moat. Moat planned his actions with meticulous detail and willing accomplices Awan and Ness. Moat decided to murder and to threaten the lives of the public and police officers. There was nothing known to the police to predict his extreme actions.
The unchallenged evidence at the inquest was that Moat was a model prisoner. It is regrettable that the IPCC Commissioner has chosen to make emotive comments about this tragic matter in the context of:
(i) an IPCC investigation which was flawed
(ii) an inquest which the Commissioner did not attend;
(iii) in circumstances where after due judicial process, HM Coroner found that the police had not in any way caused or contributed to Christopher Brown’s death."
ON the welfare of PC David Rathband, DCC Ashman said: “We continue to extend our deepest sympathy to David’s family and friends. David was a valued officer and colleague and his loss was felt by everyone in the force.
“However, we strongly rebut any allegation that we failed to support David or that the support we provided was inadequate since he received life changing injuries following the shooting on 4 July 2010.
“Such allegations are without justification. We provided the highest level of financial, welfare and rehabilitation support to David, far in excess of any legal duty.
“At the time of his death, David was a serving police officer. The Chief Constable exercised her discretion to retain him on full pay since his injury.
She also gave David a personal commitment that, should he wish to do so, he could return to Northumbria Police as a police officer. We know this was also his wish.
“We were working with David, pursuing every reasonable adjustment, to allow him not only to return to work, but to do so in a way where he could use his undoubted skills and serve the public. A role within the Roads Safety Unit had been identified for David to return to and we were hoping for his return into this position.
“David was fully aware that, should he decide at any stage not to return to work, he would be entitled to a medical pension and an injury award.
“From the day of the shooting the Chief Constable supported David with personal visits and reassurance. This positive support is reflected in his own words in his book.
He also received personal and emotional support through a dedicated welfare officer who was in regular face-to-face contact.
His welfare officer was in contact with David when he was in Australia, and when he returned.
He met David at the airport on the Monday of his return and spoke to him the following day. He attempted to meet with him that day but David was insistent that the meeting should take place later in the week.
“The force was mindful that the responsibility for David’s health care lay primarily with the NHS. In support of that, the force put in place a variety of additional measures. It was very clear that Northumbria Police would be responsible for paying for these additional services.
At no time did we ask David to pay for any care from any Criminal Injuries Compensation claim or otherwise. An individual always has the right to choose and make decisions about their own healthcare.
“The additional measures included:
- An assessment and treatment from a clinical psychologist.
- The provision of a specialist trained trauma counsellor.
- Employment of a specialist agency in rehabilitation for visually impaired people, to work with him, to look at adaptations in the home, to liaise with social services and his own doctor regarding the provision of adaptations.
- Assistance with the provision of specialist equipment.
- Funded private dental care to support NHS treatment.
- Offer of private treatment from a consultant pain specialist. “We also offered additional support to his family.
“In respect of counselling services, the first contact with the force’s Occupational Health Unit took place in Aug 2010. David was content that he was receiving appropriate support and treatment from the NHS.
“In October 2010 David was seen by the Force Medical Advisor. He explained that he was receiving physical and psychological support from the NHS and he neither wanted nor needed further intervention.
“In mid December David finally accepted that further psychological support from the force may be beneficial to him. He requested that this should not take place until after Christmas. In January 2011 numerous attempts were made to try to arrange appointments for David.
This proved difficult due to his lifestyle commitments and on going treatment for his physical injuries. We did however engage a specialist rehabilitation company to put together a care plan for David.
The initial assessment was done in February 2011.
“There was a delay between February and June in the preparation of the report which was frustrating both for David and the force.
This delay can be explained by four key factors. First, the difficulty that David had in accepting he needed specialist/psychological support.
Second his busy lifestyle commitments. Third, the requirement for David to consent to provide access to his medical records and fourth, the need for case conferences to ensure the provision of joined up service between the NHS and the private provider. In addition, all correspondence had to be routed through his solicitor which slowed down the process.
“On receipt of the care plan in early June we employed the services of a recognised specialist. However, we understand David was unable to attend appointments due to his commitments. In August 2011 the plan was updated and in September David again confirmed that he was happy with the support he was receiving from the NHS.
In September he did however agree to see the specialist and an appointment was made. David engaged in this process until he left for Australia.
“During his sick leave David was granted permission to pursue a number of “business and charitable interests” in so far as it was consistent with the public interest, including media interviews and writing his book. It was right that the public should hear David’s story from himself.
“At all times, we treated David with compassion. We are confident that we did everything we could in these exceptional circumstances to support David financially, medically and in every other way possible. He was a valued and skilled officer. The Chief Constable, her officers and staff repeat their deep sadness at his death.”