This summer, the eyes of the world will be on east London during the Olympics. Communities across east London and visitors to the area will witness an extensive policing and security operation with up to 12,000 officers on the ground during peak days. A prime community concern is the impact of this on equality and human rights entitlements.
The need for Community Legal Observers has already been explored in articles both by NMP and its supporters in recent months. In short, we and many others based in east London are concerned about the impact that such high levels of policing will have on specific sections of the community, many of whom already experience disproportionate contact and often discriminatory treatment from authorities – young people, people from black, Asian, minority ethnic, refugee or white working class backgrounds – but we are also conscious that policing and security at ground level can impact on others including visitors for whom English is not a first language, students and residents. In recent times in Newham, community confidence in the police has been severely tested by the disastrous Forest Gate anti-terror raids, where two Muslim families endured a terrifying house-raid based on faulty intelligence, the inordinately high level of Section 60 searches compared to other boroughs and most recently the allegation of racial abuse by police from NMP case Mauro Demetrio. An increase in human rights abuses has been documented in cities where sport mega-events have been held in the past; it is therefore essential that communities in east London are strengthened to resist and challenge any infringements on their rights.
Community Legal Observers can play a pivotal role in addressing this by:
• Being present on the ground to listen to, observe and respond to community concerns
• Ensuring people are aware of and can utilise their rights by distributing rights information
• Monitoring, recording and reporting back any treatment by the police or security officers that appears unlawful, discriminatory or improper
• Signposting people to access independent advice, support and legal referral for arrest and detention to NMP’s 24-hour freephone emergency helpline
Newham Monitoring Project, an independent anti-racist and civil justice organisation, will be coordinating a team of trained Community Legal Observers in areas surrounding the Olympic sites for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics.
The provision of Legal Observers / Human Rights Monitors is a long established tradition in east London dating back to the 1930’s, acting as the eyes and ears of those on the ground and providing unique support to communities during public events and protests. This summer, we need your help to do this!
How to volunteer to become an NMP Community Legal Observer
To become part of the NMP Community Legal Observer team you need to attend one of the following training sessions. Training is free and will be held on the following dates:
Saturday 9th June 2012 11am – 4pm
Friday 15th June 2012 11am – 4pm
What the training will cover:
– The Olympic ‘landscape’ and its impact on east London
– Understanding the role of Community Legal Observers
– Overview of human rights issues and the law in relation to this: Stop & Search powers, dispersal zones, curfew powers, arrest and detention
– Overview of law specific to the Olympics and potential impact at a community level
– Details of how the Community Legal Observer Team will be coordinated and supported by NMP
The training is open to anyone over the age of 18. You do not need a background in law as you will not be providing legal advice. Volunteers should be able to offer some availability during day and evening shifts across Newham from July 27th – September 9th 2012.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on our website providing your contact details stating which date you can attend. Alternatively you can call us on 02084708333 for further details.
NMP is supported by The Network for Police Monitoring in launching this project.