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Met Police Complaints Upheld

Statistics collected by the Guardian show that less than one in 200 complaints brought against the unit of the Metropolitan police responsible for public order policing during the past decade have been upheld.

The data gathered from a request for freedom of information poses concerns regarding the accountability of the MO7 task force of the Met, including the Territorial Support Group (TSG) and allied specialist units.

Demi Drury, from HNK Solicitors, was requested to share her view on the issue.

 

Met Police complaint statistics 

The statistics reveal that 27 complaints against the MO7 taskforce were upheld. This was 0.46% of the total of 6,319 complaints submitted between 2010 and August 2020. Many of the successful complaints have arisen since 2018, meaning that not a single complaint was upheld in the past seven years.

Solicitors specialised in police law said the numbers showed a process of inadequate complaints that fail to keep police officers to account for alleged criminal abuses and professional standards violations.

There are approximately 500 officers in the TSG, which is the main unit in MO7, representing more than half of the staff. The Met’s mounted branch, its dog handlers and its marine section have other units.

Metropolitan Police Officer

While generally identified with police riots, protests and football matches, TSG units invest most of their time patrolling or supporting operations such as drug sweeps in the deprived “high-crime” parts of the capital. The social media platforms of the Met indicate that the TSG is still actively engaged in stop and search, which has created increasing tensions between the force and the black community of London.

A criminal inquiry into five TSG officers who stopped, handcuffed and searched British athlete Bianca Williams and her partner, Portuguese sprinter Ricardo dos Santos, in July, was launched last week by the police authority, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

3D Flag of Metropolitan Police Service logo

 

Met Police have broken ethical conduct principles

The report includes allegations that officers have broken police principles of ethical conduct related to the use of force, duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy, and will investigate whether the couple “were treated less favourably because of their race”, the IOPC said.

The number of allegations against TSG officers was indicated by the recent statistics collected by the Guardian until 2014 when it became part of the MO7 task force. Complaints against all units in the consolidated command are detailed in the figures for 2015 onwards.

Assault was the most frequent charge levied at officers over the entire 10-year period, with 1,545 “other assault” or “serious non-sexual assault” allegations reported, none of which were admitted.

 

Increased tensions between the Met Police and ethnic minorities 

A further 452 complaints of oppressive behaviour or harassment were made, only one of which was upheld, and 405 allegations were made involving racist behaviour, the first of which was upheld earlier this year. The most frequent resolution for concerns regarding the actions of task force officers was by far that there was no need to respond, the finding in 3,649 instances (58%).

Rear view of Metropolitan Police Officers Wearing High Visibility Jackets in London

 

Siân Berry, the Green Party’s London mayoral candidate, said the information indicated that the TSG was being used in circumstances in which their involvement was inappropriate. “The numbers and types of complaints should be ringing alarm bells, but the fact that over half are completely dismissed suggests these officers may feel they can continue to behave in this way with impunity,” she said.

The information comes at a time of increased tensions between the Met and the black, Asian and minority ethnic groups of London after police crowded the streets of the capital to impose coronavirus controls and stop-and-search levels soared.

 

Cases of misconduct by Met police 

The TSG has been linked to several other high-profile cases and allegations of unfairly targeting black people, as well as the incident surrounding Williams and dos Santos.

Perhaps the most serious incident came in May, when Jordan Walker Brown, a 24-year-old black Londoner, was left paralysed from his waist down when TSG officers shot him in the back with a Taser stun gun when he leapt over a wall to avoid a search. Tasers should only be used by the police when individuals pose a significant threat.

The Guardian was advised by solicitors who specialise in police law that they found the complaints process to be ineffective. All but the most serious complaints are internally reviewed. If the complainants are not happy with the result, they may appeal to the IOPC, which normally reviews the investigation but rarely re-investigates the complaint.

 

HNK Solicitors view on the issue 

Demi Drury, from HNK solicitors actions against the police department, who often deals with complaints against the Met, said: “A lot of clients who approach me will say they want to bypass the complaints procedure because it can take years.”

At HNK Solicitors we support and promote that the authorities have their duties to stop crime in the UK, however, discrimination against race, gender and sexuality will not be tolerated. Those enforcing the law should also be held accountable to ensure we live in a just society. Our clients should not feel as though they want to bypass the complaints process. We are here to support and change this outlook many people unfortunately have.

Police officer on duty on a city centre street during special event

Other solicitors argue 

Despite that, some choose to pursue complaints. Raju Bhatt, of Bhatt Murphy solicitors, said: “We are obliged to advise our clients that what we have is a dysfunctional complaints system that is simply not fit for purpose, but it is the only avenue by which a member of the public has any chance to ensure a police officer is prosecuted for any crime or disciplined for any disciplinary offence.”

A Met police spokesperson told the Guardian there were “clear processes” for any complaint, adding: “No officer acts with impunity; they know their actions will be subject to public scrutiny, now more than at any other time with incidents regularly filmed and shared on social media.

“The Territorial Support Group are experienced officers deployed to police protest events, but a large part of their role is also to support colleagues across London in tackling violence, the Met’s top priority. We are always keen to reduce the number of complaints we receive and part of that work is explaining to the public why officers use particular tactics in different situations.”

 

HNK Solicitors can help you if you have been a victim of police misconduct

HNK Solicitors can help you if you have been a victim of police misconduct

If you ever been mistreated, victimised or discriminated against by the police because of your race, gender, or sexuality, you deserve justice. You do not have to accept police misconduct, if your civil liberties or human rights have been infringed, HNK Solicitors can pursue your police complaint for you.

We work hard to ensure you get the outcome you desire, whether this is a formal apology, disciplinary action against the officer(s) involved, or compensation for your mistreatment. For more information, visit our Civil Actions Against the Police page, or to arrange a consultation get in touch with our specialist team on 0151 203 1104 or email us at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com.

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