Met Police’s ‘systemic’ failings, in particular over stop and search, have been highlighted by incident close to a Croydon tram stop last week
Two dire episodes of policing, including one in Croydon which has shocked many television viewers, emphasise why the Met Police has been placed in “special measures”.
One Croydon teenager reported that he feared he would die when officers pushed him to the ground in a mistaken stop and search, while another black teen has been forced into hiding from the criminal gang that kidnapped him, after the police treated him as a criminal rather than as a victim of county lines grooming.
This young man is bringing what is thought to be the first complaint of its kind against the Metropolitan Police for its failure to protect him.
Yesterday, it was announced that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary had reached the unprecedented decision to place the Met into what amounts to “special measures” due to a litany of new “systemic” failings.
Among the Met’s failings discovered by the inspectorate are nearly 70,000 crimes going unrecorded by the country’s biggest police force and a multitude of errors in the use of the controversial stop and search policy.
According to a report in the Grauniad, an inspection found 14 fresh significant failings, coming on top of a flood of scandals “chilling” in their damage to public confidence.
The Met is currently without a Commissioner, following Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation earlier this year when a lack of confidence in her leadership from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was cited.
The Met has been involved in a series of shocking scandals, from the murder of Sarah Everard by the serving Met officer Wayne Couzens; the strip-searching of innocent children such as Child Q; and grossly offensive attitudes among officials revealed by messages exchanged between officers at Charing Cross police station. The inspectorate has also noted the “seemingly incomprehensible failures to recognise and treat appropriately a series of suspicious deaths in the Stephen Port case”.
The Met has been found to have failed to meet national policing standards, with errors on stop and search a particular cause for concern, with the grounds for one-quarter of stops not recorded, thus thwarting scrutiny of whether they were justifiable.
One of the latest incidents occurred in Croydon last Thursday, when Deshaun Joseph, 14, had an encounter with his local police that his mother described as “every parent’s worst nightmare”.
Joseph was on his way home from school when he was stopped by officers, handcuffed and forced on to the ground. It all happened close to Blackhorse Road tram stop in Addiscombe, just a few yards from the constituency office of the Labour MP, Sarah Jones.
Police say that they acted because Joseph matched the description given of one male within a group of thieves who stole a mobile phone from a primary school pupil.
But the incident, reported on ITV London news, which broadcast disturbing video taken by witnesses, has drawn troubling comparisons with the treatment of George Floyd, the American who was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis during an arrest in 2020, and which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter protests.
“I thought I was going to die,” Joseph said in his TV interview. Joseph suffers from asthma. Doctors have confirmed that the teenager suffered bruising to his back.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Janet Joseph, his mother, in tears as she watched the video footage of the incident with the ITV reporter.
“It’s the same old story – every black boy fits the description. There’s no excuse for what they did to my son and the excessive force they used on a 14-year-old black boy.”
Police say the child was thrown to the ground after he “verbally abused officers and became obstructive”, and that, “Once he was eliminated as a possible suspect, he was given a written record of the stop and search and allowed on his way.”
Chief Inspector Richard Berns, from the Violent Crime Taskforce, said: “Officers were responding to reports of a robbery involving a young victim and had to conduct their ‘on the street’ investigation under very challenging circumstances after some onlookers began directing verbal abuse at them.
“All officers understand that their actions are subject to scrutiny. An initial review of the incident, including body-worn video, has been conducted by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards and no misconduct is apparent.
“However, a public complaint has been made and will be investigated thoroughly by the professional standards unit.”
Despite Sarah Jones being Labour’s front bench spokesperson for policing, neither she nor the councillors for Addiscombe East ward, where the incident took place, have made any public comment.
Another complaint has been filed against the Met, this by the 19-year-old who says that even before he was exploited by a county lines gang, he was a victim of racist stereotyping by the Met, and that he was falsely accused of being involved in various crimes in which he was later found to have had no involvement.
Police viewed him as a “documented gang member” and shared this appraisal with the Housing Association where his family lived, who then rejected his mother’s request to move.
Yet the teen is still in the care of Met Police’s Human Trafficking Modern Slavery Unit.
He says that he was first forced into gang drug-dealing activity aged 15, but that although his absences from school were reported to the police, no action was taken, and he continued to be subject to grooming activity even after he’d left school and joined the Army.
He claims he was wrongly accused of being in a gang simply because he knew people who grew up in the same neighbourhood as him who were believed by police to be gang members. When kidnapped by the gang in October 2021 and subjected to beatings, he says that the police ignored a 999 emergency call for help, even though he provided them with the address where he was being held.
Even his mother and family were forced out of their home. “I have raised concerns with the police for a few years now that my son is being groomed but I was ignored,” his mother told The Guardian.
“I had to flee my home, leave my job; my daughter is out of school. I have no stable accommodation and threats have been made to our family. The only thing I have left now is my voice and this is why I have decided to share what has happened,” she said.
His legal complaint, launched last Friday, claims in a letter before action that police failed in their duty to protect and safeguard him, failed to treat him as a victim and racially stereotyped him. He has accused the police of breaching the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act.
Attiq Malik of Liberty Law Solicitors, who is representing the complainant against the Met, said: “It is extremely concerning that children who are victims of grooming and modern slavery consistently fail to receive the support and attention that is required for them from public authorities such as the police and are instead categorised and treated as gang members simply because of narratives and stereotypes associated with their race.”
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Police say the child was thrown to the ground after he “verbally abused officers and became obstructive”.
The video shown on ITV news doesn’t pick up that verbal abuse or him being obstructive, and that isn’t an excuse for them assaulting anyone, let alone a child.
It’s not acceptable for someone going about their lawful business, in this case travelling home from school, to be attacked.
What makes it worse is that none of our local politicians have condemned it. By their silence, they are condoning police brutality.
This makes me so angry and hurts my heart. These kids and their families are being horrendously let down.
Attacking black children not only shows the disturbing level of institutional racism in the police force but also goes against the basic principles of policing by consent
The Met needs fundamental change