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Henry Hicks ruling frees police to return to frontline

Misconduct panel clears officers over 'pursuit' before 18-year-old crashed his moped near Pentonville Prison

27 October, 2017 — By Emily Finch

CCTV showing the moped in Caledonian Road, with a police car behind the bus

FOUR police officers will have the chance to return to active frontline duty after a misconduct panel ruled on Friday they had not been in breach of police policy when the Angel teenager they were tailing died after crashing his moped.

During the four-day hearing at Empress State Building, in Earls Court, the panel heard from the four police officers in two unmarked police cars behind Henry Hicks, 18, when his moped crashed in Wheelwright Street, near Pentonville Prison.

The issue at the centre of the hearing was whether the four officers – who were previously based at Islington Police Station in Tolpuddle Street and were granted anonymity – were engaged in a pursuit of the former Highbury Grove pupil on December 19, 2014.

Met guidelines dictate police officers must seek authorisation from central command for a pursuit immediately after signalling for a vehicle to stop, unless in exceptional circumstances. At central command, a supervisor caries out a risk assessment and decides whether a pursuit can go ahead.

The officers said they never got close enough to Henry’s moped to signal for him to stop.

The hearing was told how Officer A, the driver of the car closest to Henry, first grew suspicious of the teenager after noticing his bike’s enlarged cluster light, which often indicated a modified stolen bike made to look less powerful.

The officers suspected Henry, who they say was wearing a full-faced helmet throughout, of dealing drugs after later spotting him surrounded by a group of people outside a pub in York Way.

The panel heard that seven small bags of cannabis and £230 in cash were recovered from Henry’s clothing by a detective after the crash, alongside three mobile phones.

CCTV of the night was shown to the panel from various times and streets. Panel chairwoman Elaine Herlihy, in her conclusion, said: “We have observed the CCTV and we find that there is always a significant distance between car 1 and the moped.”

During the hearing it emerged Henry was mentioned three times in daily briefings given to police officers in the month before he died. One briefing slide on December 10 referred to the scooter he was riding on the day of his death.

According to the Independent Police Complaints Commission report released on the day of the hearing result: “All four officers had identified Mr Hicks from CCTV footage in relation to an allegation of affray in May 2014, and were due to give identification evidence at a forthcoming court hearing in 2015.”

Concluding the hearing, Ms Herlihy said: “We find from consideration of all the evidence before us that they were not engaged in a pursuit.”

Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin said: “Every day in London we ask our officers to make difficult decisions in fast-moving situations. Policing is a job that people sign up to because they want to help the public.”

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