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The independent London newspaper

Delays over police hearing ‘hit grieving Henry Hicks family’

Charity boss says wait for disciplinary proceedings ‘undermines any confidence in the system’

03 March, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Henry Hicks died when his moped crashed into cars near Pentonville Prison in December 2014

THE head of a leading charity has blasted the Met’s “delay” in holding a misconduct hearing for the officers involved in the fatal pursuit of teenager Henry Hicks.

Henry, 18, from Angel, died after losing control of a Vespa moped and crashing into cars in Wheelwright Street, next to Pentonville Prison, on December 19, 2014.

In June last year, following a 12-day inquest into his death, a coroner’s inquest ruled that Henry was killed in a road crash during a police pursuit – after a jury rejected the version of events provided by police officers involved in the chase.

Based on the inquest findings and its own investigation, the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), ruled that the four officers, known only as A, B, C and D, should face gross misconduct proceedings over their actions during the pursuit of Henry.

But seven months on – and more than two years since Henry’s death – no date for a hearing has been set.

Deborah Coles, director of the charity Inquest, which supported the Hicks family during the inquest, said: “Delay of this sort undermines the public’s trust in police and the justice system. It’s in the interest of justice that, where decisions have been made to hold misconduct hearings, they should be heard as promptly as possible.

Inquest director Deborah Coles

“It [the delay] particularly impacts bereaved families. They are looking to this process to get some justice and accountability. Families have this hanging over them and they want to go through the process. These delays frustrate their grieving process because it’s unresolved.”

Ms Coles added: “This family have been very clear from the outset that they want justice and accountability and this delay just frustrates and undermines any confidence they have in the system [designed] to hold officers accountable.”

The inquest heard Henry was being followed by two unmarked police cars, which had their sirens on and blue lights flashing. Officers said they went after Henry because he was acting suspiciously. Seven small bags of “skunk” and £230 in cash were recovered from Henry’s clothing by a detective after the crash.

The four officers travelling in the pursuing cars told the court Henry was “at no point aware” they were following him and that therefore the events of that night “technically” did not constitute a pursuit. But the jury rejected their evidence.

The IPCC found that the officers conducted a pursuit without authorisation from a senior officer in the control room. It also said the officers also did not consider the risks to Henry of the pursuit.

Commenting on the length of time it is taking to schedule a hearing, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Since material from the independent IPCC investigation was provided to the MPS in November 2016 a process of disclosure has been taking place in line with regulations that govern the police misconduct process.

“The MPS aims to ensure that the hearing is carried out as soon as possible as that is in the best interests of all those affected.

“The officers remain on restricted duties. None has retired or resigned.”

An IPCC spokeswoman said: “Although disclosure of evidence was provided to the MPS prior to the Henry Hicks inquest, the force requested additional documentation a number of weeks after it concluded on June 28, 2016.

“The material was provided to the MPS in November 2016, following a disclosure process.”

The Hicks family declined to comment on advice from their legal team.

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