The shooting of a woman by police in Toxteth was not caught on the body-worn cameras of the officers involved.

A watchdog investigation has found the officers attempted to record the incident, which left Sonia Price fighting for her life, but the devices did not launch in time.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which found no wrongdoing on behalf of Merseyside Police over the shooting, said the force will change its body-worn camera tactics as a result.

Emergency services were called to the North Hill Street area at around 2pm on July 9, 2020, following reports of a woman who was throwing objects, acting "erratically" and holding a knife.

Officers with Tasers were initially dispatched to the scene but nearby armed police - who also carry Tasers - provided support after hearing of the developing situation.

An IOPC report released today said one of those armed officers fired at Ms Price after she refused to drop the blade and approached police.

police shooting of woman in toxteth was not caught on body-worn cameras

© Liverpool Echo Police at the scene on North Hill Street.

It said: "The incident log was passed to the force incident manager, who responded that in the first instance, it was appropriate for officers wearing body armour and using correct personal protective equipment including a Taser, to attend and conduct an assessment.

"Two authorised firearms officers stated they heard radio transmissions about the deployment and while they had not specifically been deployed, they agreed to support their colleagues as they too carried a Taser.

"The authorised firearms officers attended and informed the woman that they were armed police. They shouted instructions to the woman to drop the weapon.

"One firearms officer drew their Taser. As the woman came towards the officers with the knife in her hand, the other firearms officer drew their pistol and shot the woman.

"Both officers administered first aid and the woman was taken by ambulance to hospital."

police shooting of woman in toxteth was not caught on body-worn cameras

© Liverpool Echo Police cordon off North Hill Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, after a woman believed to have been carrying a knife was shot by police. Credit: Liverpool Echo; Dave Shirwin

Ms Price, then aged 54, was shot once in the abdomen.

She was left in a critical condition and was only discharged from hospital in June, 11 months after the incident.

The shooting was referred by Merseyside Police to the IOPC, which highlighted an issue with force policy over body-worn cameras.

The IOPC found the officers activated their devices, but start-up delays designed to preserve battery life meant the incident was not recorded in full.

The reports said: "Following the conclusion of the investigation, we issued a statutory recommendation to the force in relation to the use of body-worn video cameras.

"While the devices have a 30-second pre-record feature, allowing footage to be captured prior to being activated, force policy was not to enable this setting due to its impact on battery life.

police shooting of woman in toxteth was not caught on body-worn cameras

© Liverpool Echo Police cordon off North Hill Street.

"It meant that despite the officers activating their body-worn cameras to record when they first approached the woman, the footage only began after the woman had been shot.

"In its response, the force confirmed it would be using the pre-record feature in future and had been working to address concerns about the battery life of the cameras."

The IOPC said its investigation included the collection of witness statements from police officers and members of the public, the analysis of CCTV and body-worn camera footage, downloads from Tasers and radio and telephone transmissions.

Commenting on its findings, IOPC regional director, Amanda Rowe, today said: “This was an extremely distressing incident that left a woman with very serious injuries and we wish her well with her continued recovery.

"We recognise the impact this has had on those involved, as well as the wider community. That is why it was so important for this use of potentially lethal force to be subject to a detailed investigation that was independent of the police.

"The officers involved put themselves in harm’s way to protect members of the public and we found the use of force was necessary and proportionate in the circumstances.

police shooting of woman in toxteth was not caught on body-worn cameras

© Liverpool Echo Police Scientific Support at the scene on North Hill Street.

"However, we did find opportunities for the force to learn from this incident and we welcome the change to the way body-worn cameras are being used, which will benefit officers and the public alike."

Further IOPC recommendations to the force centred on the storage of crime scene logs and that the two firearms officers should have informed the force incident manager of their decision to attend the incident.

In response to the report Chief Superintendent Jenn Wilson, Merseyside Police's head of professional standards, said: "We welcome the findings of the report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct that concluded no police officer involved did anything that constituted a criminal offence or require disciplinary proceedings.

"Our officers put their own lives on the line every day and have to make difficult decisions, often under very stressful circumstances, in order to protect the wider public and keep everyone, including themselves and their colleagues, safe.

"We will always welcome any opportunities to improve our way of working and will take on board the potential areas of learning identified in the IOPC report."

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