Death of Detective Constable Stephen Oake: Inquiry

House of Lords written question – answered on 16th January 2003.

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Photo of Lord Hughes of Woodside Lord Hughes of Woodside Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will provide further information on the operation in Manchester on 14 January, which led to the death of a police officer.

Photo of Lord Filkin Lord Filkin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary said yesterday that he would report further to the House, when he was able to do so, about the operation in Greater Manchester on 14 January in which a police officer, DC Stephen Oake, died.

The basic facts about this incident have not been confirmed by Greater Manchester Police. In the late afternoon of Tuesday 14 January, two immigration officers, with the support of Greater Manchester Police, entered premises in Crumpsall Lane, Manchester, for the purpose of detaining, pending deportation, an individual whom the Home Secretary had certified earlier in the day under the provisions of Part IV of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. In addition, the officers of Greater Manchester Police had obtained a warrant to search the premises.

Three men present at the premises were detained. Nine Tactical Aid Unit officers, who had entered the premises, assisted in securing these men and in making the scene safe. All these officers were wearing full protective equipment, including body armour, and remained in the premises. Fourteen Special Branch officers were there to undertake aspects of the operation involving investigation and intelligence gathering. These officers were not wearing body armour.

The exact detail of what took place is still under investigation and will be the subject of an inquiry. But, as is already known, it is clear that a violent incident occurred during which DC Oake was fatally stabbed. Three other officers were stabbed and a fourth officer sustained a broken ankle. One of these officers remains in hospital, suffering from stab wounds to the abdomen. His condition is stable and he is likely to leave hospital next week. The other three officers have now been released from hospital.

Following the struggle, the situation was brought under control by the police and all three men were arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Subsequently, one man was released from these provisions and immediately detained by the Immigration Service. He is currently detained in prison under Part IV of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act. The second man has also been released from the provisions of the Terrorism Act and remains in the custody of Greater Manchester Police pending investigation into the death of DC Oake and injuries to the other officers. The third man remains detained under the Terrorism Act and is now in the custody of the Metropolitan Police.

Armed response vehicle resources were available throughout the operation for immediate deployment as required, but firearms officers were not deployed in specific support of this operation. The inquiry will obviously examine this. All the Tactical Aid Unit officers who entered the building were wearing full protective equipment, including body armour.

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Michael Todd, has, with the agreement of the Home Secretary, established an inquiry which will be led by a senior police officer from outside the Greater Manchester police force. The inquiry will be held with the support of the Immigration Service. The senior investigator from Greater Manchester Police will be a detective superintendent and, from the Immigration Service, an assistant director.

The inquiry will concentrate on all aspects of planning, briefings, communications and implementation of the operation. The key objective will be to learn the lessons from this tragic incident, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary made clear in his oral statement to the House yesterday. The preliminary findings will be available within four weeks.

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