19 October 2023 14:48 Statement after 13-yr-old boy was detained by armed officers in Hackney A statement has been issued by Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway after a 13-year-old boy was detained by armed police in Hackney. Officers had received a call to reports of someone in possession of a handgun; it quickly became clear this was a toy water gun.

Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, in charge of policing for Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: “This incident was understandably extremely distressing for the boy involved as well as the rest of his family.

“We know it may cause public concern and we want to help the public understand why we responded in the way we did. This does not in any way detract from our recognition of the trauma caused to the boy, for which I apologised soon afterwards to his family.

“At around 15:45hrs on Wednesday, 19 July, an unarmed officer in Hackney, saw a male on a bicycle pointing what was believed to be a handgun at a young girl.

“Officers from the Met’s specialist firearms command were called to the scene and found a boy matching the officer’s description riding on an electric pedal cycle nearby.

“Specialist officers are trained on specific tactics including using vehicles to bring cyclists to a stop. This tactic was used in this case, causing the boy to fall off his bike.

“Firearms officers left the car and he was handcuffed and detained. It quickly became clear that he was not in possession of a firearm. He was de-arrested at the scene. In subsequent enquiries, his family confirmed he had earlier been playing with a toy water gun.

“Our officers are dealing with fast moving situations, based on the limited information provided to them at the time. Such is the nature of the threat from firearms that the College of Policing is clear that officers should treat all firearms as real and loaded until proven otherwise. The police have a positive legal obligation under human rights legislation to protect life, which shapes our approach to responding to suspected firearms.

“As would be expected, the actions of the officers involved were reviewed by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) and a voluntary referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. They decided the matter should be passed back to the DPS to investigate – an investigation was conducted and no misconduct has been identified. A public complaint has also been received and this is currently being investigated by the DPS.

“Since the incident occurred, I have met with the boy’s family to explain the reasons behind our actions. This included showing them the relevant body worn video from the officers involved. I listened to their concerns and I understand how upsetting this has been for them.

“Conscious of the impact of this incident, support has been made available to the boy and his family through our partners. We have also agreed to a review of the safeguarding support offered, led by our independently chaired Safeguarding Children Partnership, in order to learn any lessons from the incident.

“I am sorry for the trauma caused to the child and I am happy to meet with the family again if they feel that would help.”