BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Call for police shootings inquiry
Derek Bennett
Derek Bennett was carrying a gun-shaped cigarette lighter
The deputy chairman of a police watchdog has called for a wide-ranging public inquiry into the large number of fatal shootings by police officers.

Peter Herbert, deputy chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said an inquiry was needed to end a "climate of impunity" which exists in police forces around the country.

His comments come in the wake of last month's fatal shooting of a black man in Brixton, south London.

Derek Bennett, who was carrying a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun, was struck by several bullets fired by police marksmen.

'Right to life'

Mr Herbert believes there is a "very strong argument" for removing officers from investigations into killings by police and for making the Police Complaints Authority completely independent.


There is a climate of impunity for those in uniform where there have been verdicts of unlawful killing

Peter Herbert
He said: "There have been far too many cases when members of the black community have been either shot or died in police custody.

" I believe there should be a public inquiry into the whole issue of deaths in custody.

"Black and white people have a right to life under the European convention, and that has been breached in far too many cases where the circumstances are questionable."

He said he thought Mr Bennett's death should be one of those to be examined by the public inquiry.

An inquest into Mr Bennett's death has been opened and adjourned.

Parents' shock

Mr Herbert said: "We often speak of a climate of impunity when talking about human rights abuses abroad, but here there is a climate of impunity for those in uniform where there have been verdicts of unlawful killing.


We in this country as black people are as human as everyone else. Our children cannot be shot down like this by the police

Violet Bennett

"There are many cases still where there have been inquest verdicts by juries of unlawful killing by the police, in London and elsewhere, on the criminal standard of proof, and there has been no prosecution."

Mr Bennett's parents, Ernest and Violet Bennett, have backed calls for an inquiry saying they want to see the officer responsible for the shooting brought to justice.

Mrs Bennett said she was unable to come to terms with her son's death.

"My feeling is very low. I cannot sleep and I think of Derek every moment.

"They shot Derek just like that. Why did the police have to shoot him? Could they not shoot him in his leg? Why did they have to use so many bullets on him?

"I cannot understand it, I am in shock, I do not understand what happened."

She added: "We in this country as black people are as human as everyone else.

"Our children cannot be shot down like this by the police."

The Bennetts say they have not been contacted by either their local MP or any other politician since the incident.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories