Judge Keith Cutler, the coroner at the controversial Mark Duggan inquest, has announced he will invite submissions from the dead man’s family to help shape recommendations on police firearms procedures. “I have wanted to have transparency for all the parties and the public,” he told reporters. “In that spirit I am taking the unusual, perhaps unique, step of inviting submissions from all the interested parties, including the Duggan family.”
A verdict of lawful killing was returned at the High Court last week. Family and supporters of the 29-year-old, whose death at the hands of a Met Office police marksman sparked widespread riots in the summer of 2011, reacted with outrage. Jurors faced intimidation and abuse during the course of the hearing and had to be given special protection by police as they left the Royal Courts of Justice.
“Whatever you think of him as an individual, Mark Duggan was somebody’s son. No one wanted him to die,” said Mr Cutler, who courted controversy by calling for a 20-second silence at the start of the inquest last September.
In a further display of appeasement, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner publicly commended the Duggan family on the “dignity” with which they conducted themselves.
Whilst accepting that engagement is usually a very good thing, I think it’s important not to send out confusing signals. Whatever we may think about the conduct of the Met officers (certainly, a number of serious questions remain unanswered), we should be wary of creating a climate of moral relativism and appeasement, because it could result in paralysing the police and inhibiting their ability to deal effectively with the drug trade and the increasing incidence of gun crime by gangs in London.
Sometimes concessions can be dangerous and all this transparency may, ironically, obscure what’s really important here. If we want drugs and guns removed from our streets, it’s crucial that the police force is properly empowered to do so on our behalf.