Post Incident Procedure vital to retain and increase firearms officers

26 October 2016

Firearm Officer

Having the correct Post-Incident Procedure (PIP) is vital in order to retain and increase the number of firearms officers across the service.

That is the view of Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on armed policing.

Mr Chesterman was speaking at the first-ever seminar into Post-Incident Procedure organised by the Police Federation of England & Wales.

Plans for an extra 1,500 firearms officers were announced earlier this year, but Mr Chesterman believes that the way deaths and serious injuries are dealt with is key to not only training more officers but also retaining those already performing the role.

“It’s a major challenge to deliver this uplift and one of the greatest threats to delivering this is post-incident procedures.

“If we get this wrong not only will we fail to recruit the people we need, but we’ll also fail to keep hold of the ones we’ve got with officers questioning if it’s worth it in terms of the impact on their career.”

The current IPCC guidelines want a full detailed statement from officers immediately after an incident.

Mr Chesterman said: “If an officer puts a foot wrong when making their account they could go to prison, and that’s at the forefront of their mind when they are made to make a full statement.

“Firearms officers are very well-trained and very restrained. They don’t want to shoot people. It’s not a macho environment as often perceived; it’s often a traumatic and highly emotional time with someone having potentially lost their life."

When members of the public witness or are involved in a traumatic incident, police often take an initial account to get the investigation started, and then follow this up with a detailed account. The question was asked why should this be different for police officers.

The advances in body-worn video are making the process more transparent and helping address concerns around collusion.

Mr Chesterman added: “If an officer is wearing body-worn video, you not only capture the incident and immediate aftermath but also the journey back to the station so any links to collusion between officers are removed.”

Discussing the issue of separating officers following an incident he supports the idea for IPCC investigators to be invited to sit in and watch officers giving their accounts, again adding to openness and transparency.

The seminar continues today (Wednesday 26 October) and tomorrow (Thursday 27 October), with speakers from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), Police Firearms Officers Association (PFOA) and the College of Policing.