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. Read more
Newham Monitoring Project has launched a public campaign to have CCTV cameras installed in the back of police vans in Newham in time for the start of the Olympics.
The campaign calls on individuals and organisations to support a wider demand for the Metropolitan Commissioner Hogan-Howe to install cameras in the back of all police vehicles, but specifies that at a minimum, a pilot needs to be in place in Newham before the start of the Olympics. Read more
Poet, writer and patron of Newham Monitoring Project Benjamin Zephaniah explains why it is important for young people in east London to know their rights on stop & search, especially during the 2012 Olympics.
That means carrying NMP’s 24-hour emergency helpline number at all times – so go on, put the number [0800 169 3111] in your phone!
Publicity for our helpline during the Olympics is one part of our response to this summer’s Games, when we aim to ensure that local people are aware of their civil liberties and have a way of seeking redress if they believe their rights have been ignored. We are also offering a basic rights information card, legal workshops for youth and community groups and, for the first time, trained Community Legal Observers near to event venues.
If you are interested in volunteering for NMP over the Olympic period, either as a Community Legal Observer or to help promote civil liberties in east London in other ways, please contact us.
Newham council subsequently confirmed that it took the that the decision to remove the community language papers in April 2011 because it believes their provision created a barrier to residents learning English and integrating fully into the community.
To challenge this, the campaign launched a petition and following an initial meeting it managed to secure the endorsement of 12 local community groups. Read more