Police slammed in public inquiry report into shooting of unarmed man

Anthony Grainger
Anthony Grainger

Police have been heavily criticised in the public inquiry report into the shooting of an unarmed man on a car park.

Anthony Grainger lost his life in a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) firearms operation in Culcheth in March 2012.

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Now Judge Thomas Teague QC has found the force was entirely responsible for Mr Grainger's death and uncovered severe deficiencies and shortcomings in the firearms unit.

Mr Grainger's family said the report laid bare "a litany of catastrophic failures" and want the police force to now be put in the dock.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has agreed to meet with them and offered a personal apology.

The narrative conclusion found GMP failed to develop an accurate profile of Mr Grainger, failed to ensure competent officers took part in the operation and made a number of serious mistakes in how the operation was set up and executed.

This led the officer who fired the fatal shot, known as Q9, to believe there was a far higher risk posed by Mr Grainger and the fellow occupants of an Audi on the car park than was in fact the case.

The police believed Mr Grainger was reaching for a firearm but this was incorrect, the report concluded. Instead, it was most likely he was reaching for the door handle to get out of the car.

The car had been stolen in December 2011 and police believed when it parked up that there was likely to be a robbery at a commercial premises imminently.

However, the report concluded there was no evidence to suggest weapons were in the car and while its presence in Culcheth was undoubtedly linked to criminal activity it was not to carry out a raid that night.

The report said: "Had GMP’s firearms commanders adopted disruption as a tactical option, as they should have done, they would have avoided the risks occasioned by decisive intervention. Had they planned, briefed and conducted the deployment competently, Q9 would have been less likely to misinterpret Mr Grainger’s actions and might not have shot him."

The culture of GMP's firearms unit was also heavily criticised as "unduly reticent" and even "secretive" and the judge slammed the way Mr Grainger's death was handled afterwards, with the entire process described as "completely misconceived" and a "travesty".

The judge said it "passes comprehension" that lawyers involved in the case went along with the procedure and even encouraged it.

Gail Hadfield-Granger, Mr Grainger's partner, called the report "devastating" and said it revealed "a litany of catastrophic failures". However, she said that "some justice" had at last been done after seven years.

The family also revealed they have never had an apology from GMP.

Ms Hadfield-Granger now wants to meet the Home Secretary to discuss the report. It was also revealed the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will now be asked to review the case and consider charges of corporate manslaughter against GMP.

GMP has now released a statement in the wake of the report's publication.

A GMP spokesperson said: “We fully understand the heart-breaking effect that Anthony Grainger’s death has had on his family and loved ones. We also fully understand that the public inquiry will have been very difficult for them. On behalf of Greater Manchester Police, we offer our condolences to Anthony Grainger’s family and to his loved ones.

“We have received the public inquiry report into the death of Anthony Grainger and we are considering the findings of the chairman, HHJ Teague QC.

“In his report, the chairman has made a number of findings which are critical of GMP. The criticisms are wide-ranging and include criticisms of aspects of the planning and preparation of the firearms operation during which Anthony Grainger lost his life on 3rd March 2012.

“The force, our commanders, and our officers do not set out on any policing operation with the intention of firearms being discharged. This case was no different and the safety of the public, the subjects of police operations and our officers is, and remains, our absolute priority.

“That being said, we undertake to consider each and every one of the chairman’s findings and criticisms with the utmost care, attention and reflection. It is what the public would expect GMP to do in circumstances where criticisms have been made of the planning and preparation of a police operation in which a young man lost his life. It is what GMP will do.

“Working alongside our regional and national partners, we will consider all of the chairman’s recommendations to assess what more can be done now, and in the future, to further improve the safety of police firearms operations.

“Many changes have already been made locally, regionally and nationally since the death of Anthony Grainger in 2012, most recently following an independent review conducted by the College of Policing. We will continue to strive to maximise the safety of all policing operations.

“We will not comment any further until we have had an opportunity to read the chairman’s report in more detail."

After the statement was issued Chief Constable Hopkins spoke further.

He said: "Having listened very carefully to His Honour Judge Teague’s statement today at the conclusion of The Anthony Grainger Inquiry, and having had further time to consider the report, I would now wish to make a further statement.

"I am, through lawyers representing Mr Grainger’s family and his partner, offering to meet them in person if they wish.

"In the meantime I would like to personally apologise to Anthony Grainger’s two children, to his mother Marina Schofield, his partner Gail Hadfield-Grainger and his wider family for the significant organisational failings of Greater Manchester Police that have led the inquiry to conclude that Greater Manchester Police are to blame for Anthony Grainger’s death.

"The intention of Greater Manchester Police through the Operation Shire investigation was to prevent harm to the public. Our failings have led to Anthony Grainger’s death and caused unimaginable harm to his family.

"For that I am sincerely sorry.

"We will now study the report in detail and discuss with the Independent Office for Police Conduct what further action may be necessary in response to the Chairman’s conclusions.

"We have already taken steps to improve the safety of firearms operations following Mr Grainger’s death in March 2012.

"We will consider the recommendations to identify any further additional measures that are required to improve the safety of our firearms operations."