Failures in police communications blamed for UK riots after Duggan death

The riots that followed the death of Mark Duggan in 2011 were the result of failures in police communications, not the shooting, a former government adviser has claimed.

Confrontations between police and youths in 2011 (picture credit Raymond Yau)
Confrontations between police and youths in 2011 (picture credit Raymond Yau)

Speaking on the Today programme yesterday, Shaun Bailey, David Cameron’s former adviser on youth and crime, blamed mixed messages from the police for the worst riots in mainland Britain for a generation.
 
"Let’s get this straight, it was the police reaction to the shooting that caused the riots, not Mark Duggan," he said.
 
"There were two different stories coming out of the police. They should have had one senior officer speaking to the press alone and not had all these different conflicting stories."
 
Bailey also said that the police failed to provide Duggan’s family with clear information: "They should have gone straight to the family and dealt with the family directly – that’s the kind of thing that started the riot, and not the fact that Mark Duggan had been shot."
 
A Metropolitan Police spokesman denied the force had put out mixed messages, but declined to comment further.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has previously admitted it may have "inadvertently" given inaccurate information that Duggan had fired at police when responding to "early" media enquiries following the shooting.

The inaccuracy could be due to the fact that one of the shots fired at Duggan hit a police officer. The IPCC’s statement in 2011 implied it received the inaccurate information from the Met.

Today an IPCC spokesman said: "It is clear the duty press officer, who fielded dozens of calls that evening, at some stage responded to a question from a journalist: 'We do not know the order in which the shots were fired. We believe the officer was shot first before the male was shot.' That was, as we later knew, an inaccurate interpretation of the information available. We subsequently issued a statement to clarify the information and we have publicly apologised for that mistake."
 
The spokesman added that measures to address concerns about "a vacuum of information" have been taken.

"In conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers, we have since updated a protocol with police forces over media handling. The protocol reinforces the fact that an IPCC independent investigation does not prevent the police commenting to media on for instance areas of community impact, tension or potential disorder arising from an incident."

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