Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Met denies riot custody report

Scotland Yard has denied claims that officers were ordered to keep every riot suspect behind bars

Scotland Yard has denied claims that officers were ordered to keep every riot suspect behind bars.

The force also refuted reports that chiefs said none of those arrested over the widespread violence should be let off with a caution.

The Guardian said it had seen a leaked document entitled "Operation Withern: prisoner processing strategy" that was circulated to officers investigating the disturbances at their height two weeks ago.

According to the newspaper, the Metropolitan Police devised a policy of holding all people arrested in custody and recommended that courts refuse suspects bail after they were charged.

The claims came as figures showed more than 1,406 people have appeared in court for disorder and looting-related offences.

About 65% of the hearings have been in the capital, with 22% of offenders aged between 10 and 17, latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice show.

The "prisoner processing strategy" leak to the Guardian prompted a clarification from the force.

"Contrary to reports, at no point does the guidance issued to officers suggest that all persons arrested should be held in custody nor that cautions or other disposals are inappropriate in relation to Operation Withern," it said.

"Where the threshold to charge was not met, 623 people have been bailed to return pending further inquiries, 125 were released with no further action or - in a small number of cases - dealt with by other police disposals including 17 people who were cautioned. "

The newspaper said the document came into the hands of the solicitors Hodge, Jones and Allen, who have written to the Met informing them they are starting judicial review proceedings of the decision not to bail a client. The unnamed 25-year-old was arrested for possession of £2,500 of items looted in the riots in south London.

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