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Addressing a Critical Incident

  • 2 Pages
  • Published On: 12-12-2023

I was the senior investigation officer (SIO) on duty on the weekend of the 16th to 19th April 2019 when I was notified of an explosion in Brixton and put in charge of investigations and intelligence’. In this report, I will describe the range of specialists available in relation to complex live (or cold) cases and outline and the roles I would utilise for this incident, the actions I would take, and the considerations regarding the community.

Range of specialists available in relation to complex live (or cold) cases and outline and the roles

The SOCOs will be called to the scene as they are required to collect evidence at the crime scene and then pass it to the detections of the CID and the forensic laboratories. As there is a bomb blast, there will be a need to collect forensic evidence by the SOCO.

Search experts, firearm teams and their tactical advisers will also be called to the crime scene. The search experts will be responsible for collecting evidence like samples of fibres, dirt, and dust. Firearms teams are required to the scene as there is a bomb explosion involved.

Specialist prosecutor (terrorism) is part of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division and is specifically involved in the prosecution or terrorism cases.

Specialist SIO for terrorism is part of the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command.

Forensic scientists are required because the bomb case would require specialist investigation and forensic scientists can examine and analyse batteries and electric wires that may be used in the bomb.

The Media/Press Unit would be needed to report on the matter sensitively and to handle the press reports from the police to the public.

Community Experts will be needed to provide communication bridge to the community of Brixton where the bomb blast has taken place. Brixton is majority Black and Ethnic Minority and community experts representing these communities will serve as a bridge to the larger community.

Actions I would take

The first step I would take is to preserve life which would involve an immediate search of the area for more bombs and any victims that need medical assistance.

The second step I would take would be to preserve the scene of the bomb blast as this would have valuable forensic evidence that would be important to the investigation. This step would also involve a search for the perpetrator or perpetrators.

The third step would involve the securing of evidence and for this the specialists and the officers would form the ‘inner’ scene or the site of the actual bomb blast. This is the site which has to be preserved for evidence and no one other than authorised specialists and officers can be allowed into this site. The SOCOs, search experts, firearm teams and their tactical advisers will be part of this inner scene.

The fourth step would be to identify the victims and create a list of their names, addresses and the hospitals that they have been taken to. In this case, there are 48 people who have been injured in the bomb blast and it would be our department’s responsibility to inform their family. Of particular concern is the one year old baby whose skull has a nail from the bomb lodged.

The fifth step is to identify witnesses. In this case, there are market traders who first saw and became suspicious of the bag; these are the witnesses that we have to identify. One of these witnesses is Gary Shilling, who moved the bag to a less crowded area. Gary Shilling has also identified the possible perpetrator, Copeland who was acting suspiciously. There are other traders who were involved in further moving the bomb and its landing at the Iceland supermarket. These two or more witnesses have to be identified. The traders who called the police at 5.15 pm also are to be identified.

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With regard to the offence, it is possible that this would be classified as hate crime and not terrorism as per the College of Policing guidance which provides that if offence fails the ‘terror’ test it may well still be a ‘hate’ crime.

Considerations regarding the community

In this case, the community is involved because it was targeted possibly by the perpetrator who wanted to take some action against the Black community in Brixton. It would be important to reach out to the community leaders so that they can be briefed about the events. The media will have to be informed to treat the event with sensitivity as there is a community that was targeted.


This is a sensitive case as there are a number of victims and a community was targeted. It would be important to address the media and community briefings by the police with sensitivity.

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