Home AffairsWritten evidence submitted by David Mery [IPCC 18]

1. Based on the experience of having had an IPCC supervised investigation following my unlawful arrest by the Metropolitan Police Service I recommend that the IPCC considers the outcome the complainant is looking for (and not just the terms of reference), that the IPCC gets the power to demand actions from the police, that the IPCC gets the power to make decisions in the public interest and that the IPCC be more careful in fulfilling subject access requests from complainants.

2. I submit this evidence as an individual. I have been residing in London since 1993.

Factual Background

3. On 28 July 2005 I was stopped and searched and then unlawfully arrested at Southwark tube station. As the arrest has eventually been found to be unlawful, the subsequent taking of my fingerprints, palm prints, DNA samples and photographs were an assault on my person, the overnight detention was false imprisonment and the search of my flat was illegal. When I surrendered to bail on 31 August 2005, I was informed that No Further Action would be taken.1

4. I complained to the IPCC about my arrest on 19 April 2006. On 20 June 2006, the IPCC decided to supervise an investigation to be run by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS). The key outcomes I was looking for were: an apology for the actions of the police (the unnecessary and possibly unlawful stop and search, arrest, search of my flat, seizure of property, etc), the destruction of all the personal data the police had collected since my arrest (in particular my DNA sample and profiles, fingerprints and palm prints, PNC record and photographs), and ensuring that lessons were learnt so the same would not happen to others.2

5. The DPS completed its investigation report on 23 January 2007. The report found there was no lesson to be learnt and that the actions of the police were lawful, however the cover letter accompanying the report includes the following comments by the Inspector managing this case at the Misconduct Office: “I agree that the stop and search were lawful under that Act but I believe the arrest was unlawful. I agree with all the other conclusions in this report. […] I agree that this search was unlawful.”3

6. As none of my expected outcomes were achieved and that I had also since discovered a breach of the Data Protection Act as my PNC record had information implying a conviction had been achieved, on 9 February 2007 I appealed the outcome. On 11 May 2007, the IPCC decided not to uphold my appeal. In the accompanying letter, I am informed: “Despite the decision made, we have however requested that the Metropolitan Police Service reconsider your request for your records and samples to be physically destroyed and electronically deleted, and for the summary information in the Police National Computer to be expunged. We have also informed the service that a copy of the Stop and Search form 5090 should be provided to you. You should now expect the Metropolitan Police Service to contact you regarding the actions that I have asked them to take.”4

7. On 19 May 2007, I contacted a solicitor to start a civil action against the Metropolitan Police Service. My DNA sample were destroyed, and fingerprints, palm prints and PNC record deleted on 14 September 2007.5

8. Eventually on 23 September 2009, the Metropolitan Police Service settled and the Borough Commander for Southwark wrote: “I would like to apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service for the circumstances that arose on 28 July 2005 including your unlawful arrest, detention and search of your home. I appreciate this has had a deep and traumatic impact on your lives and I hope that the settlement in this case can bring some closure to this. I shall ensure that the officers concerned are made aware of the impact of the events of that day and also the details of the settlement in this case.” And the photographs taken when arrested and during the flat search were returned.6

Recommendations

9. (A) That the IPCC considers the outcome the complainant is looking for (and not just the terms of reference)

10. My written statement of witness7 used by the DPS to start its IPCC-supervised enquiry concluded with a list of desired outcomes. These were ignored by the IPCC, which focused on the terms of reference drawn by the DPS.

11. With hindsight I would have ensured that all my desired outcomes were included in the terms of reference. The DPS attempted to pressure me to go for local resolution instead of a full investigation and to shorten my written statement of witness. I resisted this pressure. The definition of the terms of reference to be narrower than my statement of witness achieved a similar outcome for the police without being as obvious.

12. If the current system continues, it must be made clear to the complainants that the terms of reference are the only scope for any outcome they may be expecting in approaching the IPCC.

13. (B) That the IPCC gets the power to demand actions from the police

14. The IPCC “requested” that the Metropolitan Police Service reconsider my request for personal data to be expunged and “informed” the service that a copy of a compulsory form “should” be provided to me. The IPCC should have the power not just to make polite requests, but also to make effective demands.

15. (C) That the IPCC gets the power to make decisions in the public interest

16. Even if the IPCC does not obtain the power to direct the police to consider the outcome requested by the complainant, it should still be empowered to direct the police to consider lessons to be learnt to ensure that no one else will have to go through the same ordeal.

17. (D) That the IPCC be more careful in fulfilling subject access requests from complainants

18. After the case was over, I requested the personal data the IPCC had retained.8 On several occasions it was clear that pages were missing in the information sent by the IPCC. It took me several attempts to obtain a set of documents that appear to be complete.9

June 2012

1 Suspicious behaviour on the tube, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/sep/22/terrorism.july7

2 Innocent in London – “Suspicious behaviour on the tube”, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html#D20060620

3 Innocent in London – “Suspicious behaviour on the tube”, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html#D20070123

4 Innocent in London – “Suspicious behaviour on the tube”, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html#D20070511

5 Innocent in London – “Suspicious behaviour on the tube”, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html#D20070914

6 Metropolitan Police Service apologises for unlawful arrest, http://gizmonaut.net/blog/uk/2009/09/mps_apologises.html

7 Statement of witness, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/articles/200607_Statement_of_witness.html

8 IPCC Subject Access Request, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html#D20100210

9 IPCC Subject Access Request, missing pages, http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html#D20100702

Prepared 1st February 2013