THIS week’s Panorama programme is just the latest chapter in a four-year fight for answers into Habib Ullah’s death in High Wycombe.
It is shocking that his family are still waiting for the Independent Police Complaints Commission to conclude its reopened investigation in the case.
After Mr Ullah’s death in 2008, it took five months for the police watchdog to express the view that there was “no evidence to justify any criminal proceedings against the officers”.
Though the final IPCC report was due to be published after the inquest in December 2010, the emergence of new evidence meant its probe was rightly restarted.
But it is now almost two years since the investigation was reopened, and the painfully-slow process has left the family exasperated.
Surely it should not take this long? Not only does it prevent the family from moving on, but the police officers involved are also left in limbo.
Panorama raised questions about the IPCC’s effectiveness, but its slow processes also need to be challenged.
Of course the IPCC does not have an easy job, and we acknowledge that deaths following restraint by police officers can be the most difficult and controversial cases to investigate. And this matter is further complicated by the fact Mr Ullah was concealing drugs in his mouth.
We want these cases fully investigated, so as the IPCC argues, it should be given more powers to compel officers to attend interviews, so statements can be interrogated.
The ability to require attendance at interview would avoid the need to make decisions about conduct or criminality at too early a stage, which the IPCC says can inhibit officers’ cooperation and therefore undermine an investigation.
These powers could well have meant the new evidence, heard at the inquest, was uncovered at a much earlier stage, and this may have changed the course and speed of the IPCC investigation.
We hope the IPCC is able to conclude the reopened investigation as soon as possible, and the findings get to the truth of what happened in this tragic case.