Met chief: police ‘should wear name tags and face sack for hiding ID’
(TIMES ONLINE) Police officers should wear name tags on their uniforms and those who deliberately hide their identity could be sacked, Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said today.
The police has come under severe criticism for its handling of the G20 protests and Sir Paul, Britain’s most senior policeman, said he wants officers to be more easily identifiable to the public.
He also made it clear though that he wanted his senior officers to take a more robust approach in supervising the rank and file officers to ensure they could both be praised and have problem areas identified.
Speaking at New Scotland Yard Sir Paul said: “I have made it clear consistently that uniformed officers should be identifiable and I see no reason why we should not have name tags on when in uniform.
“I have made it absolutely clear it is totally unacceptable for any uniformed police officer not to be showing relevant identification. I have also made it clear that I will deal appropriately and proportionately with any such breach.”
He added: “If somebody is trying to deliberately avoid being identified and the reason he is doing it is so he can behave inappropriately, badly or criminally, then of course they will face the sack.”
He said the ability to identify an officer was not just an essential check on their behaviour but a way of protecting them from false allegations
Three months ago officers in Cambridgeshire began to wear their names on their uniforms to much praise from the public.
Whether the tags will be sewn into uniforms or attached by velcro, which could come off in a riot, would have to be discussed with the Police Authority, Sir Paul said.
Sir Paul spoke as a third post mortem was carried out on Ian Tomlinson who died minutes after allegedly being pushed over by a Territorial Support Group officer during the G20 protests.
The officer, based in Lambeth, has been interviewed under caution on suspicion of manslaughter by Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) officials.
The autopsy was carried out at the request of the officer and the Met said they would be represented after taking legal advice. The first post mortem showed the 47-year-old died from a heart attack but the second, conducted at the request of the man’s family and the IPCC, found he died from internal bleeding in his stomach.
The IPCC is investigating the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson’s death and they are also looking into video showing another officer hitting a woman with his baton.
The IPCC will also examine whether the officers were clearly wearing their identification numbers.
Sir Paul said that he sincerely regretted the death of Mr Tomlinson and that he would do everything he could to make sure his family got the answers they wanted.
He also revealed that both the Met and the City of London police were examining hours of CCTV and video footage to see if any officers had contravened police regulations.
He said that the G20 protest was “one of the most challenging police operations in the Met and police history”. He added: “When you talk to international colleagues they are staggered in what the Met has done. I have to say this is in context of a man dying.”
In the next few days Sir Paul will be questioned about the tactics used at the G20 protests twice by the Metropolitan Police Authority and by a Home Affairs Select Committee.