Anger at violent police conduct

Community responds to young boy being punched by police officer

Community protest against police officer using violent force upon young boy  Credit: Stephen Furner

By Luchia Robinson

A video clip of a police officer punching a young person has raised further concerns of brutal policing in Black communities.

The video circulating on social media shows a young Black boy, aged 16, positioned between two officers, one of whom begins punching the youth in the head before grappling him to the ground.

The incident happened last month outside Park View Academy School in West Green Road, where a crowd gathered, recording the footage.

According to the Metropolitan Police, officers from the North Area Basic Command Unit were on a ‘proactive patrol’ following recent reports of robberies. The officers stopped a group of boys outside the school, detaining one for a search.

Police say four boys aged 16 were arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker, they were bailed to return to a north London police station at a date this month.

The boy in the clip sustained facial injuries and was taken to hospital, and three officers were said to have also been injured during the altercation.

The police referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following a complaint from a member of the public − an independent investigation into what happened is being conducted.

Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming, Commander of the North Area Basic Command Unit, said: “I am aware of videos circulating on social media showing part of the incident and we are working to establish the full circumstances of what occurred.

“A criminal investigation is underway to ascertain how the officers received their injuries and welfare support is being provided to them.

“A public complaint has been received and we recognise the community concern around this incident so we have made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The IOPC has taken the investigation
as independent.

“It is important to remember that videos show a snapshot in time and the wider context is not immediately obvious. I would ask that our communities allow us the time for the incident to be reviewed in full so that all the circumstances can be established.”

What is clear from the video footage is the officer punching the young boy whilst he is restrained. Stand up to Racism Haringey said: “The police statement accepted no responsibility for repeatedly punching a child on his head. There is absolutely no justification for such brutality against a child.

“There was no apology for the excessive use of force especially against a child and certainly no information about whether the officers were being suspended to facilitate an investigation into their conduct.”

Ken Hinds, Chair of Haringey Independent Stop and Search Monitoring Group Credit: Stephen Furner

Ken Hinds, chair of Haringey Independent Stop and Search Monitoring Group said: “The police harassed four Black schoolchildren as they went to collect their GCSE certificates from Park View School. They had not seen each other for quite some time so they were just catching up and hanging out. They were not being threatening or anything. The police attempted to stop and search one of the children without any reasonable suspicion.”

A march from Park View Academy to Tottenham Police Station was promptly organised, with many young people, campaigners, residents and local councillors in attendance.

Haringey Councillors, Cllr Mark Blake, cabinet member for communities and Cllr Kaushika Amin, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “The footage that has been circulated on social media is incredibly concerning, particularly as it appears to involve a child, and we simply cannot ignore this issue. There are genuine concerns about the disproportionate use of force by police against Black people and right on our doorstep in Haringey.

“People rightly want their views to be heard. In Haringey we are proud of our communities and local concerns must be heard – and they must be addressed. The police must operate within the law and their own policy and procedural framework and be seen to do so. If incidents like this happen, it is right that they are properly investigated and as a local authority we will support this in any we can.

“The Met Police have to take the issue of disproportionality seriously and we urge the Met Commissioner to demonstrate that they do so. We recognise trust levels in the police are not as high as they should be. Changing this must be a priority, and this is recognised in our Borough Plan. Policing must be by consent.”

Governmental stop and search statistics show that police in England and Wales made 79% of all searches of Black people in the year ending March 2019. There were 38 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people compared with four for every 1,000 white people. Black ethnic groups
had the highest rates of searches out of all of the ethnic groups recorded in the data.

The IOPC has begun gathering evidence into this case of force used by the police and they are asking witnesses to the incident to get in touch. Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “We are aware of the significant community concerns raised as a result of this incident and have decided to independently investigate the complaint about the boy’s interactions with the police.

“It is our job to oversee and investigate any complaints made about the police independently and impartially.

“We will be investigating the police force’s use of stop and search tactics
during this incident and whether the actions of those officers were appropriate, proportionate and followed approved police policies.

“We will also investigate if racial profiling or discrimination played a part in the incident.”

At the time of the incident, Haringey Council said it would be making representations to the Metropolitan Police to address community concerns regarding “aggressive policing and fears around children and engagement with the police, particularly around stop and search.”

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