Police shootings at a record high - Watchdog reveals details of six fatalities

Date:3rd January 2017. Picture James Hardisty. Police incident on the Ainley Top slip road Huddersfield, West Yorkshire off the M62 junction 24 where one man has been shot dead by police, pictured West Yorkshire Police forensic teams examining the cars at the scene.
Date:3rd January 2017. Picture James Hardisty. Police incident on the Ainley Top slip road Huddersfield, West Yorkshire off the M62 junction 24 where one man has been shot dead by police, pictured West Yorkshire Police forensic teams examining the cars at the scene.

The number of fatal police shootings in England and Wales has reached the highest level for more than a decade, new figures show.

A watchdog said the six fatalities recorded in 2016/17 was the largest annual number recorded since it began collecting the statistics in 2004.

The tally includes the shooting Yassar Yaqub who was shot in a pre-planned police operation near at junction 24 of the M62 at Ainley Top on January 2.

The 28-year-old was shot three times by armed West Yorkshire Police officers, who had information there might be a firearm in the car in which he was he was travelling.

Mr Yaqub, from Huddersfield, was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle when he was shot. A non-police firearm was recovered from the vehicle.

The shooting of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood in March, is also included in the statistics for the last 12 months.

Data published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) yesterday also showed there were 14 deaths in police custody – the second-lowest figure it has recorded.

There were 28 deaths related to police pursuits of vehicles, more than in any year since 2005/06.

Dame Anne Owers, chairwoman of the IPCC, said the rise in fatal police shootings was in the context of many thousands of authorised firearms operations.

The latest figures show there were more than 14,700 such operations in 2015/16.

“The deaths happened across six forces, and one was terrorism-related,” Dame Anne said. “It is important that each incident is thoroughly and independently investigated, to provide public reassurance.

“Investigations into three of the 2016/17 incidents are complete and, as in the great majority of firearms investigations, we have found no indication of misconduct by any firearms officer.”

Police chiefs and the IPCC are to examine whether changes to police pursuit safety or training are needed following a rise in road traffic fatalities.

There were 24 police pursuit-related incidents, in which 28 people died – more than double the 13 deaths in 2015/16.

Dame Anne described the rise as “noticeable”. She said: “None were in response to emergencies, and two-thirds of the people who died were passengers, bystanders or other road users. All but two incidents involved cars.

“Pursuits are dynamic and fast-moving events, and there are authorised procedures to ensure that they are as safe as possible.

“When we investigate, we examine whether those procedures have been followed, taking account of known risks. In most of the incidents investigated, this was the case.

“However, given the rise in fatalities, we will be working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to look at the causes and whether any changes to police pursuit safety or training are needed.”

The IPCC report also showed:

Twelve men and two women aged between 18 and 56 died in or following police custody;

The total of 14 is the same figure recorded as the year before, and broadly in line with the average number over the last eight years;

Eleven of those who died in or following police custody were known to have a link to alcohol and/or drugs, while eight were identified as having mental health concerns;

There were 55 apparent suicides following police custody, down from 60 in 2015/16 and the lowest figure since 2012/13.