Home>Fire>Alarms and Detection>Metropolitan Police Service issues update on Grenfell Tower investigation
Home>Fire>Enforcement>Metropolitan Police Service issues update on Grenfell Tower investigation
Home>Fire>Evacuation>Metropolitan Police Service issues update on Grenfell Tower investigation

Metropolitan Police Service issues update on Grenfell Tower investigation

28 May 2024

AHEAD OF the seventh anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, detectives at the Metropolitan Police Service have outlined the progress made by the criminal investigation team as they move towards the next stage of their enquiries.

Since the tragic events that unfolded on 14 June 2017, the Metropolitan Police Service has been fully committed to investigating the fire in order to identify any criminal offences and, if so, determine those who are responsible for them. A team of 180 officers and staff remains dedicated to the investigation.

To date, Metropolitan Police Service detectives have:

*identified (and are investigating) 19 companies or organisations and 58 individuals as suspects

*entered an ‘early investigative advice’ phase and submitted eight of 20 advice files to the Crown Prosecution Service

*interviewed under caution over 50 suspects for a total of more than 300 hours

*spent more than 12 months forensically examining Grenfell Tower and painstakingly removing its exterior piece by piece

*collated upwards of 27,000 exhibits (including cladding, insulation, doors, windows and other parts of the building right down to screws, nuts and bolts), which are held in a 635 m2 warehouse big enough to house 25 double decker buses

*followed-up more than 27,000 separate lines of enquiry

*taken more than 12,000 witness statements

*retrieved over 152 million documents and files

*evaluated circa 1,600 witness statements provided to the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, 300 days’ worth of evidence and over 320,000 documents disclosed by the Public Inquiry

On 4 September, the Public Inquiry team is expected to publish its Phase 2 report. This will be a landmark moment for not only all those directly affected by the fire, but also for the police investigation itself.

The Metropolitan Police Service’s work is independent of the Public Inquiry, but detectives must fully consider the report’s findings in the context of the ongoing and highly complex criminal investigation.

As things stand, the Metropolitan Police Service believes that it will take the investigation team at least 12-to-18 months to fully assess the Public Inquiry’s final report and then complete evidential files to present to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging decisions.

Bereaved and survivors

Metropolitan Police Service Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy explained: “At the heart of the police investigation are the bereaved and the survivors who’ve gone through so much. I cannot pretend to imagine the impact of such a long police investigation on them. Those who are most deeply affected have our commitment that we’re doing all we can to make sure this investigation is right. We owe that to those who died and all those affected by the tragedy. We’re moving as quickly as we can, but we must be thorough and diligent in our investigation.”

Cundy continued: “This is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever undertaken by the Metropolitan Police Service. The sheer scale and legal complexity of the task is immense. We’ve been working since the night of the fire to leave no stone unturned in our investigation into what happened.”

Further, Cundy noted: “Based on where we are today, we believe it will take us at least until the end of 2025 to fully assess the Public Inquiry’s Phase 2 report and finalise evidential files to present to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging decisions. We’ve updated the bereaved and survivors with our expected timescales. We know how long this sounds on top of the very long time they’ve already waited.”

In addition, Cundy stated: “To provide some context, the Public Inquiry’s Phase 1 report was more than 800 pages long. We expect the Phase 2 report will be substantially longer and much more complex. We must fully assess the findings of the document line by line against the evidence we’ve gathered in our investigation. It’s very possible we’ll then need to explore further evidence and witnesses and potentially interview some or all of the criminal suspects again.”

Early investigative advice’

The Metropolitan Police Service has worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service since the beginning of the investigation. Detectives are now in the process of submitting ‘early investigative advice’ files.

These files draw together much of the evidence gathered by the investigation team. This enables the Crown Prosecution Service to consider the evidence, as well as important legal aspects of the investigation, and then provide the Metropolitan Police Service with advice on any further lines of enquiry.

So far, eight of 20 ‘early investigative advice’ files have been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service with 12 other files in advanced stages of preparation. Each file examines a full range of offences including corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter, fraud and Health and Safety offences.

In order to illustrate the scale and complexity of the investigation, the covering report alone for just one of those advice files is 535 pages long and references more than 1,200 supporting evidential documents. Printed out, that file, which has been prepared in relation to just one company and its employees, stands at almost seven feet high.

A team of specialist prosecutors from the Crown Prosecution Service will carefully and thoroughly consider all of the evidence, with the fervent hope of making charging decisions by the end of 2026.

Great benefit

Rosemary Ainslie, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Crime Division, observed: “The Metropolitan Police Service anticipates sending complete files of evidence to us by 2026. There is great benefit in this case that we’ve been working closely with the Metropolitan Police Service’s officers throughout and will therefore be in a strong position to consider the final evidential files when they’ve been completed.”

Ainslie continued: “However, due to the sheer volume of substantial evidence, there’s still a good deal of work to be done in terms of reaching any charging decisions. It’s our hope that, by the end of 2026, we will be in a position whereby we are making such decisions. It’s not possible to provide any timescales on our charging decisions so we will not be able to give a definitive date on when everything will be completed, but our team of specialist prosecutors will need time to review the final files carefully and thoroughly before coming to their conclusions.”

Responding to the Metropolitan Police Service’s update on the Grenfell Tower investigation, Hina Bokhari (Liberal Democrat London Assembly member and spokesperson for fire safety) affirmed: “I’m disappointed that the news will likely mean bereaved families and communities will have waited for up to a decade to witness those responsible for Grenfell facing accountability for their actions. The longer those individuals and families impacted are forced to wait for a conclusion, the longer they’re forced to live with the trauma without even a sense of justice having been delivered.”

Bokhari concluded: “Both the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service must be given all the resources necessary to advance the investigation as quickly as possible. Ultimately, we must all ensure that a tragedy like this is never allowed to happen again.”