The IPCC has received a complaint about the use of police helicopters as part of the emergency response to the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017.
The complainant, who lost several family members in the disaster, has stated their belief that the use of helicopters encouraged some Grenfell residents to remain in the Tower in the mistaken hope of a helicopter rescue and that the downdraft from the helicopters fanned the flames, worsening the fire.
There are three separate enquiries into the events of June: the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) criminal investigation, HM Coroner’s inquests and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
The IPCC has decided to manage an investigation into this complaint, which is linked with elements of the ongoing investigation which the MPS is undertaking. This will ensure a co-ordinated approach which does not undermine or delay the ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation.
Sarah Green, Deputy Chair of the IPCC, said:
“In the months since the horrifying fire at Grenfell Tower, there has rightly been a determination that all aspects of the tragedy should be properly scrutinised in the interests of survivors, the families of those who died and the wider public. While there is at present no indication that any police officer may have committed misconduct or a criminal offence, I have decided it is appropriate for this complaint to be investigated.
“The investigation will be undertaken by Metropolitan Police officers, working under the direction and control of the IPCC. This approach avoids duplication of work during the wider police investigation into the fire, while ensuring there is independent oversight of this complaint.”
The use of police helicopters is coordinated by the National Police Air Service (NPAS) which is operated on behalf of police forces in England and Wales by West Yorkshire Police. Therefore the role of both the MPS and West Yorkshire Police falls within the remit of the complaint.