A 21 year old black male from Beckton, Newham has described how police officers assaulted and racially abused him in the back of a police van after being stopped by the police during last August’s ‘riots’.
With the aid of his mobile, the young man was able to make an audio recording of police officers’ comments and later made an official complaint. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) eventually decided not to prosecute any officers directly involved, a decision we are now told is under review following the threat of a judicial review of that decision by the young man’s legal representatives, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.
The young man was initially stopped on 11 August 2011 on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, however the police could produce no evidence of this and charges were later dropped.
The young man has stated he feared for his life whilst in the police van and that on top of physical assault came racist remarks, sexually degrading comments about his mother and a prediction that he would be dead in five years.
“The problem with you is that you’ll always be a nigger. That’s your problem. Yeah. That’s your problem.”
“You’ll always have black skin colour. Yeah. Don’t hide behind your colour. yeah?”
“Don’t hide behind your black skin.”
PC MacFarlane has admitted to making comments recorded on the audio device and has been suspended pending investigation. Another officer is heard admitting that he strangled the young man.Other officers have denied assaulting the young man and have denied hearing any abuse.
A spokesperson for Newham Monitoring Project, who are supporting the man said:
“After years of re-branding its poor reputation on racial equality, the culture of racism within the Metropolitan police is still deeply embedded. Sadly, the shocking treatment of this young man at the hands of police officers, in terms of both the physical brutality and racial abuse he describes, are by no means unusual and illustrative of other reports we have received.
The CPS’ refusal to prosecute individual officers, where such damning evidence of racism exists, is inexcusable. It is hard to think of what stronger proof could be provided and their failure to take action re-enforces the view that the police are still largely above the law.With 12000 police officers based in Newham this summer for the Olympics, the borough’s black communities face the prospect of a regime of repressive policing. East London was awarded the Olympic Games in part, on the strength of its extraordinary diversity but it is policing of the kind seen in this case that can quickly ignite into something much wider. The police continue to make laudable claims of learning the lessons from last August’s events, but the evidence says otherwise.
Meaningful accountability to the community is essential in robustly dealing with unacceptable behaviour and placing cameras in the back of police vans would be a helpful start. Without changes of this kind, the public currently have no option but to take the risk of recording the police themselves. It’s rare to capture and preserve evidence of this kind, it is highly risky and we commend the young man’s quick thinking and courage.”