12:19pm UK, Wednesday June 10, 2009
Martin Brunt, crime correspondent
Six Scotland Yard officers have been suspended over allegations of "waterboarding" drug suspects.
New Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police HQ
Officers suspended over torture claims
The men are said to have pushed the suspects' heads repeatedly into buckets or bowls of water in a bid to force them to reveal the locations of drugs.
The accusations suggest they were simulating the notorious "waterboard" torture techniques employed against al Qaeda suspects by CIA staff.
The process involves hooding and strapping a suspect to a board and then tipping him head-first into a bath of water.
The effect is to make the suspect believe he is drowning.
The claims come as Scotland Yard is investigating similar allegations against the British Security Service MI5.
The incidents are said to have taken place at the homes of four young men arrested on suspicion of drug offences at properties in North London in November.
The officers, including a detective sergeant, were originally suspended over allegations they stole property during the drugs raids.
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They are members of the Enfield crime squad based at Edmonton police station.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the allegations after they were referred by Scotland Yard.
It is understood the allegations were made by a fellow officer.
The victims of the "waterboarding" are thought to be young, foreign nationals who did not make any complaints themselves.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Whilst the investigation is ongoing it is not appropriate to make assumptions.
"That said, these are serious allegations that do raise real concern.
"The Met does not tolerate conduct which falls below the standards that the public and the many outstanding Met officers and staff expect.
"Any allegations of such behaviour are treated very seriously, as this case illustrates, and if found true the strongest possible action will be taken."
These allegations, although not proved, are another embarrassment for the new Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.
He has had to put up with accusations of police brutality during the G20 demonstrations, the enforced resignation of counter-terror chief Bob Quick and the fall-out from the botched investigation into Parliamentary leaks.