A major investigation is underway into police malpractice and deaths in custody. Contact WNOW if you wish to contribute evidence.
Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah
In a month's time on Sunday July 3rd 2011 we will be holding the 3rd Anniversary vigil for Habib outside High Wycombe Police station between 4 and 7pm. It's incredible to think that three years on the investigation into his death in a car park in the town has still not been completed. Recently his family have met the CPS and we are now aware that the police officers have been interviewed under criminal caution and the solicitor present will also be interviewed.
Please join us on the 3rd of July to express your support and solidarity with the family and the campaign. A flyer and a new information leaflet will be out shortly.
Since Pap’s death in 2008 there have been other high profile deaths at the hands of the police such as Sean Rigg in Brixton and the Ian Tomlinson in 2009 and most recently Smiley Culture in Surrey. We have supported their families and cases. On Saturday July 2nd Habib's family and supporters will be travelling to Birmingham to support the family of Kingsley Burrell who died in suspicious circumstances after calling the police on the 31st of March 2011. There will be a March 4 Justice @12 midday on Abbey Road, Birmingham. More details here:
If you can't come to the vigils and demos above then please join the groups and ask questions about policing in your area. Those who regularly follow our page will know that there are deaths in custody occurring every week up and down the country. Lastly please sign the petition that the Smiley Culture campaign are promoting and get others to do so - it mentions Habib as well as the other notable deaths that have occurred.
MAY 2011 PLEASE - WE NEED YOUR HELP. This is the beginning of a very important time when evidence of police abuse is being gathered. We need to hear your stories. Please, if you have contacted us before, or submitted material or have material to submit, please be in contact. We are most especially hoping that police officers, active or retired, will be willing to make contact,either openly or anonymously to speak about their experiences of the ills of the detention system. THIS IS THE TIME TO CREATE CHANGE - PLEASE GET INVOLVED ****
March 2011: I visited a Crown Court to attend the preliminary hearing of an assault case and jotted down a few notes, which I was stopped from doing by the court clerk, as no such note taking is permitted apparently.
I asked where I could read the regulations that prevented it, but the clerk nor court manager knew.
As I left the court room a police man stopped me and asked for my name and address and why I was taking notes. The next 30 minutes approximately were spent with me asking for information about why I had been stopped and why I was being questioned.
The police man said he wanted to do a check on me. However the more serious part followed. He said, he was concerned for my 'well being' and that I might have 'got out' from somewhere I was supposed to be in. I shivered. Is this not what is considered of political dissidents in authoritarian regimes?
I was sweetness itself throughout; so calm, so reasonable and checking at each stage what would be the consequence of my responding in different ways. I gave him no grounds for further action.
At the end, I ascertained that if I tore up the few lines of notes I had taken in front of the court manager that would suffice and in relation to the policeman, that if I refused to give any personal details, I would still be free to leave.
So, the notes were shredded and I gave no personal details at all.
The court manager asked why I wouldn't. My position was clear. I was an innocent person visiting a court and attending the public gallery and did not expect to be interrogated by the police as I went about my everyday life. It was not a police state. The balance between the power of the state and an individual's civil liberties are so precious they must be protected.
Bishop Jonathan Blake
November 2010:Bishop Jonathan Blake has been approved as an Independent Custody Visitor - This will enable him to assist in the monitoring of the treatment of detainees and have access to the structures that work to improve the present system.
July: WNOW was asked to be a signatory on this letter but unfortunately our internet provider had crashed and the invitation was delayed. We have indicated since our support for its sentiments:
Protest at shocking Tomlinson decision (The Guardian, Friday 30 July 2010
The fact that PC Simon Harwood, who struck Tomlinson before he died, had previously been investigated for alleged aggressive behaviour and yet was allowed to join the notoriously violent Territorial Support Group is an outrage. As revealed by the Guardian last November, 5,000 complaints were made about the activities of the TSG over four years, yet only nine were upheld.
Tomlinson's case is far from the first. Since 1969 over 1,000 people have died in police custody in Britain, yet not a single police officer has been charged with manslaughter or murder during this time. The Tomlinson family should be given public funding should they decide to continue the legal battle for justice for Ian – as should all families seeking justice for those who have died at the hands of the police. They should also have the right to see PC Harwood's disciplinary proceedings conducted in the open. We will be picketing the offices of the director of public prosectuions in London at midday today.
Patrick Ward United Campaign Against Police Violence, Samantha Rigg-David Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, Janet Alder Sister of Christopher Alder, Saqib Deshmukh and Zia Ullah Justice for Habib "Paps" Ullah, Bob Crow General secretary, RMT, John O Miscarriages of Justice UK, Chris Knight and Camilla Power G20 Meltdown/Democracy Village, Andy Hewett and Teresa Delaney Co-conveners, Green Left, Martin Smith Socialist Workers party, Emily Apple Fitwatch, Anna Mazzola Hickman & Rose, Andy May Defend Peaceful Protest, Ian Bone, Jeff Parks Legal Defence & Monitoring Group
Summer 2010: UPDATE RE BISHOPS BLAKE'S PROCEEDINGS
I inititiated legal proceedings concerning the assault upon me by the police officer, occasioning me actual bodily harm, by laying the information at the Magistrates Court in December 2009.
Private prosecutions are rare and hard to achieve and it has been a steep learning curve. However I have been able to represent myself and see the case through Magistrates Court and into Crown Court.
After the initial Crown Court hearing the main jury trial was due to be heard from August 2nd 2010.
After the assault, I warned the police officer that I would hold him to account for his misconduct, although he responded to this dismissively.
However, the judicial process has forced him to reflect on his behaviour.
The Police Officer, through his solicitors invited the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) to exercise statutory powers under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 to intervene in this case with a view to its discontinuance. The CPS reviewed the case papers, the relevant CPS policy on Private Prosecutions, the Full Code Test and my submissions as to why they should not stop the prosecution.
The CPS could find no compelling reason to take over the case with a view to its discontinuance.
Meanwhile I had prepared meticulously and I had my witnesses in place ready to give evidence at the trial.
However, it also became clear that should I be successful at trial, the police officer would face ruin, which would impinge also on his wife and children and if I was unsuccessful my family faced the possibility of costs that would have allowed the injury of the assault to be compounded.
Neither outcome held appeal.
Therefore at the beginning of June, an exploration began into the possibility of an alternative resolution.
This has been achieved in an agreement that I will withdraw the proceedings, the defence will not apply for costs against me with each side bearing their own costs.
The 7 months of legal process thus far, the stress, the ignominy of having to stand repeatedly in the dock, the knowledge of the case among his colleagues and the costs seemed a proportionate consequence for the police officer, following his assault upon me and the actual bodily harm it caused and will have been instructive and effective, I hope, in cautioning him against repeating his misconduct on others.
Withdrawal also protected my family from the possibility of further suffering and allows us to put the event behind us.
I hope he will not repeat his violent conduct. However, as his colleagues are aware now that this case has been brought against him for assault, I suspect he will ensure that his future conduct with members of the public is above reproach. My overriding concern throughout was that if he was willing to be violent with me in a peaceful and benign setting, what could happen to others who were more vulnerable or in more aggravated setttings. I hope the experience he has had will have made him wiser and more controlled in all such future situations.
I will continue to campaign for greater police accountability and especially that all police contact with the public should be filmed with audio and video feed and the footage be available to the public and to the police.
is an important window for the public into police brutality and misconduct.
The situation in this country has reached a critical position with confidence in the police at an all time low. The system of policing, police accountability and the IPCC all need radical reform.
Until then I urge any member of the public who has been assaulted by the police not to be fobbed off with a complaint process to the IPCC but to go directly to the Magistrates Court where they can lay the information of the assault against them and have the police officer tried in open court.
The travesty of justice that has shamed our judicial system re Ian Tomlinson’s death is a powerful symbol. The IPCC takes over 6 months to investigate the complaint which conveniently for the police takes the case beyond the 6 month time boundary for bringing assault charges.
Members of the public must not delay. They must lay the information at Magistrates within the 6 month period, even if an IPCC investigation is ongoing.
If the Magistrates and the courts become aware of how widespread police violence is, then the movement for reform will gather momentum.
Bishop Jonathan Blake
MAY: 4WardEver UK organised an excellent gathering in association with the Mikey Powell Campaign, Habib Ullah Campaign and the Leicester Civil Rights Movement on May 15th at the Highlands Centre in Leicester.
Bishop Blake was asked to speak about When No One's Watching and the Four Finger campaign.
It was distressing to hear the terrible circumstances surrounding Mikey Powell, Habib Ullah, Sean Rigg and Paul Coker's deaths.
It is shocking that Simon Bosworth, Sharon Batey, Hipolit Konrad Legowski, Mark Read, Andrzej Rymarzak, janet Jackson, Kanwaldip Singh Bains, Marcus Cottoy, Amarjit Singh Chaudhri, Jonathan Pluck, Marvyn Tussler, Peter Murphy, Ian Tomlinson, Levi Rashid Goodman and Reece Staples are among those who have died in police custody and prison YOI's since July 2008.
All campaign groups must unite their voices to effect change in the system.
APRIL: The legal process re Bishop Blake's case continues.
DECEMBER: Bishop Blake maintains he was assaulted by the police and injured during the arrest and suffered abuse while detained for 24 hours at Bexleyheath police station.
He submitted a complaint to the IPCC on March 4th which was investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) of the Metropolitan Police Service. On July 13th the complaint was not upheld due to lack of evidence, although malpractice in the Custody area and omissions and false entries on the Custody Record were identified. Bishop Blake appealed the decision to the IPCC on August 9th and the appeal was not upheld due to lack of evidence on November 16th although the IPCC acknowledged that this did not mean Bishop Blake’s accounts were not accurate.
Bishop Blake is now considering taking legal action against the police officer concerned for criminal assault causing actual bodily harm and battery and against the police for compensation.
The DPS Investigation
- The DPS found that Bexleyheath Police Station was in breach of PACE in that they removed Bishop Blake’s shoes, leaving him to walk about in socks without providing him with replacement foot wear.
- The DPS found that the first cell in which he was held had no CCTV and the second cell in which he was held had CCTV but with only visual footage and no audio. Further the visual footage was of such a poor quality that it couldn’t focus on small details. Hence the requests that Bishop Blake made, which the police refused, to be able to wash, for the blood to be cleaned from the floor of the cell, for toilet paper, and for food and water in sealed containers to be provided were not recorded and visuals of blood on the floor of the cell were not available. Hence the only way Bishop Blake’s requests for his rights could be verified were if the officers recorded them on the Custody record. No such entries appeared.
- However the DPS found that the Custody record did not record either, the fact the police moved Bishop Blake from one cell to another or that Bishop Blake left his cell to see his solicitor. The Custody Record is meant to be an exact record of the time a detainee spends in custody. While accepting that the Custody Record had these omissions, the police nevertheless used it to deny that Bishop Blake had made requests to wash etc.
- However, the DPS also found that on two occasions, false entries were made by the police, claiming that the Gaoler had visited Bishop Blake in the cell and found him awake. The CCTV footage found that neither visit was made.
- The DPS found there was no record that Bishop Blake was given access to wash for 24 hours.
- The DPS stated that no toilet paper needed to be available.
- The DPS stated that it is permitted for the lights to be left on all night.
- The DPS stated that no blanket, pillow, need be provided at night.
- The DPS stated that if a detainee refused food and drink provided in open vessels by the police out of fear they may have been spat in/interfered with, then no other food or drink need be provided.
Bishop Blake’s request for the video footage of his detention
In February Bishop Blake contacted Bexleyheath Police and asked to view the video footage of his time in detention. On February 9th the police said he was not entitled to view it.
He then wrote to Scotland Yard about this and was informed that under the Freedom of Information Act the video footage must be provided.
Bishop Blake wrote again to Bexleyheath police in April and his request was again rejected under the pretext that this was ‘exempt information’ under the Freedom of Information Act.
Bishop Blake then wrote to the Home Office and was informed that under the Data Protection Act he was entitled to access to the recordings.
In August he wrote again to Bexleyheath Police requesting access. They responded saying they were taking further expert advice. They wrote subsequently explaining a process of application to obtain access to the recordings. He has submitted an application. They have 40 days to reply.
Bishop Blake’s warning to the public
Bishop Blake has issued this warning to members of the public, that should they be detained, they are in danger.
There is no independent monitoring of their stay in detention. CCTV is not in every cell. In the cells with CCTV, it does not record sound and the visual feed is poor. In public areas CCTV has audio but individual conversations are obscured by the general noise.
Requests, permitted under PACE, can be rejected because the police can choose not to record the requests in the Custody record, hence removing evidence of them.
Bishop Blakes’s experience as an innocent man, was to be detained overnight for 24 hours, without access to the following:
- to a wash basin
- to toilet paper
- to blankets
- to a pillow
- to a clean cell
- to police food or water in a sealed container ( - after 15 hours family provided bottled water)
- to a dimly lit room to sleep
- to a watch
- to the facility to record any of these abuses
PREPARATIONS ARE UNDERWAY FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL FOUR FINGER CAMPAIGN - SEE PRESS RELEASE PAGE
March 25th: It was agreed that I would meet the two DS Officers at the local Victim Support Centre. The complaint is to be investigated and I have been given a likely time frame of six months for this to be concluded. The DS's line manager has decided for now to investigate it under a heading of misconduct rather than criminal assault. I challenged this. I asked if I went out into the street and punched a passer by in the back, wrenched their arm above their neck and roughed them against the wall whether that would be criminal assault. The DS answered instantly 'Yes'. However the PC's action wasn't being treated as criminal assault at this stage! If though it became clear during the investigation that there was enough evidence of an assault, then the heading would be changed. The reason, I believe, police must wear headcams. Anyway, I think there is enough evidence despite the lack of web cam footage, as the two relevant statements made by the two police officers involved are contradictory, unworkable and clearly fabricated.
w/b March 16th: My first conversation with the DS about my IPCC complaint was not encouraging. He wanted to arrange to meet me, however he and another officer would not come to my house because they were worried about their safety! Instead they suggested we met at Bexleyheath Police station. I declined that venue as I was worried about my safety. This perplexed the DS who wanted to know where else we could meet. I suggested a neutral venue.
Can anyone provide us with the information about how many 'innocent' hours are spent in police cells each year?
More than 1,000 police have criminal records. Serving officers convicted of assault, burglary and dishonesty, according to data obtained under freedom of information law
On Saturday, February 7th 2009, Tom Collister, a 23yr old man from West Wickam was found hanging in his cell in the prison on the Isle of Wight. His friend has described him as polite, intelligent and with many gifts. How is it possible for our Society to take a young man, whose crime was graffiti and wrest him from his family and place him in a prison out of reach and contact from loved ones and so expose him to the degrading and inhuman treatment at the hands of the prison service that his fledgling life ends abruptly? Who will answer, who will pay and who will be held accountable?
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If you would like to be involved in WNOW please contact Bishop Jonathan Blake at: