Serving police officers have reacted with a combination of bemusement and bafflement to the news that Avon & Somerset Constabulary claim they are unable to identify any of the 20 officers who stormed a student flat without a warrant.
A Labour MP has also joined the condemnation of the unlawful raid, which saw more than 100 riot police from across England and Wales take part in an operation to remove squatters from buildings in the Old City that the squatters had turned out to have left the day before.
Avon & Somerset have since apologised to the students who were detained in their own home for the duration of the raid early in the morning of June 4 on High Street in the Old City.
Lawyers, academics and politicians from outside Bristol have questioned the actions of the police.
Swansea West MP Geraint Davies tweeted: “Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s failure to identify 20 officers who illegally stormed a student flat underlines need for more accountability not power for the police in the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill.”
On a Reddit thread about the raid, commenters who appear to be serving police officers have also been sharing their thoughts about the operation.
James188 said: “There were lots of forces involved and clearly someone’s forgotten to make notes at the right time.
“My force would put that on a Log; that’s probably what should’ve happened here, but someone probably thought that their boss was doing it, whilst the boss thought they were doing it.
“It’ll doubtlessly be a communication breakdown that’s led to a lack of record keeping.”
MagicAcorn wrote: “Seriously? I can get a snippy email within hours from some desk jockey in Productions because i haven’t copied the exact address of the owner from the label onto the systems, but they can’t track 20 mutual aid officers who weren’t working their regular beats and assisting in a somewhat large operation.”
James188 added: “I was talking this through earlier with a few people who went up on Mutual Aid; most were oblivious to this.
“It could very easily be ignorance; it’s not necessarily lack of integrity. Most of them were so fucked off by the whole deployment, they’ve actively avoided any press coverage of it.”
roryb93 said: “What amazes me is that, the duty skipper / inspector didn’t have the names of who was there … it literally makes it sound like some random cops turned up from all over and booted a door and jogged on from there.”
kawheye added: “I’m surprised. In my force you have to leave paperwork in the address detailing how you entered the property, under what power, and the collar numbers of the officers present who entered.
“In one of my less glamorous moments I entered the address adjacent to the one on the warrant. Luckily we didn’t force it as the occupant was home. I was very embarrassed and the occupant was rightly annoyed but understanding. I took all steps to ensure all officers present provided details so that a complaint could be made. Its just the proper way of doing things when fuck ups happen.
“In this case a completed search record should have been left with a copy of the warrant. The officers presumably eventually realised they must be in the wrong address when the paperwork didn’t line up.
“So I’m surprised and disappointed steps weren’t taken to rectify this mistake by the officers at the scene.
“I also don’t buy the ‘we didn’t keep a detailed list’ argument. Avon and Somerset will know which forces were on mutual aid. And those forces will know which officers they sent surely? Not hard to ask those forces to provide BWV (body-worn video) from those officers for that day.”
Main photo & video: Martin Booth
Listen to the latest episode of the Bristol24/7 Behind the Headlines podcast: