Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service (Met police) has said that there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect the council and the organization that managed Grenfell Tower, of corporate manslaughter.
The Grenfell disaster, one of the deadliest fires is London’s history, resulted in the deaths of at least 80 people.
On June 14, 2017, as massive fire consumed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in Kensington, West London. The fire reportedly began due to a refrigerator freezer in the fourth floor. It quickly spread to all floors in part because of the building’s exterior cladding.
At the time, it took more than 200 firefighters to tackle the blaze. The police have been able to formally identify only 41 victims so far. The definitive death toll from the fire is not expected to be released until 2018. Over 70 people were injured as well.
The residential high-rise was built in 1974 and contained 120 homes. The fire broke out shortly before 1am and the blaze started on one side of the tower block, before sweeping around the building and engulfing it in flames from the second to the top floor.
There is an ongoing investigation led by the Met police seeking answers on who was responsible for the tragedy. The two organizations that are under scrutiny are the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and the Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.
The police have sent a letter to the survivors of the fire noting, "After an initial assessment of that information, the officer leading the investigation has today notified the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that each organisation may have committed the offence of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.”
As part of this probe, senior representative of each corporation will be interviewed. However, the police have pointed out that this Act does not empower them to arrest any individual from the organizations.
Our assessment is that authorities should ensure that the survivors and the families of victims get timely justice. They should also work towards preventing such incidents from taking place in the future. The Guardian recently reported that 70 high-rise residential blocks had failed the fire safety tests carried out by the government. Such cracks in the infrastructure should be immediately addressed.