Demonstration planned outside police station tonight as it emerges that Met is also under investigation by watchdog following death of 30-year-old black man who was arrested in Croydon town centre last week
Croydon police are expected to be on full alert this evening when a demonstration is being staged in the town centre to protest over the treatment of a black woman who was arrested, and then unarrested, after getting off a bus on Whitehorse Road on Friday morning.
The incident was witnessed by several bystanders, and a video of the disturbing episode, with the woman’s young child in tears as he saw his mother in handcuffs, has gone viral on social media.
The Metropolitan Police has reported itself to the IOPC – the Independent Office for Police Conduct – in a move welcomed by the local MP, Sarah Jones, who yesterday attended a meeting of the borough’s Gold Command – senior Met officers, community workers and council officials – to discuss the response to the incident.
“This incident has caused a lot of distress, I was pleased that the police responded to the call from the community and came to the meeting. I was glad to hear the Met apologise for their public communications as well,” Jones, who is Labour’s shadow policing minister, tweeted.
Tonight’s protest comes after it has been confirmed that a young black man died while in police custody in Croydon last week. This incident is also now subject of an IOPC investigation.
A statement on the police watchdog’s website states: “We are investigating the death of a man in police custody in Croydon earlier this month.
“The man, aged 30, was arrested in Croydon town centre by Metropolitan Police Service officers in the afternoon on Saturday 15 July and was taken to the Croydon Custody Centre.
“We have established that later that evening, custody staff noticed the man appeared unwell. First aid was given and an ambulance was requested, with the London Ambulance Service arriving within minutes.
“CPR was provided and the man was transported to hospital, where sadly he was pronounced deceased shortly afterwards.
“After being notified by the Metropolitan Police, we sent investigators to the Croydon Custody Centre and to the police post-incident procedures to begin gathering evidence.
“A post-mortem was completed on Wednesday and we await further results.”
IOPC director Steve Noonan said: “Given the man has fallen unwell while in police custody and died, it’s important that an independent investigation is carried out to establish all of the circumstances surrounding this incident, including the actions and decision-making of the MPS custody staff present.”
The IOPC is reviewing the CCTV footage from the custody centre.
Tonight’s demonstration has been supported by the Women’s Equality Party, “to take a stand in solidarity with the woman mistreated and wrongly arrested in Croydon and demand an end to harassment at the hands of police officers.
“Because policing cannot continue as we know it.”
As well as the distress caused to the mother and child by the handling of the situation, much public outrage has been caused by the police’s statement in response to the video on Twitter, when they said the woman had refused to show her ticket when asked by a bus inspector, had become abusive, and the police described the social media images as “a snapshot of a wider incident”.
But eyewitnesses have contradicted the police’s initial account, saying that they did not see any abuse “at any point”, telling the Daily Mirror that the woman “continuously asked why she was being arrested while attempting to get to her son”.
In the online video, a man can also be heard repeatedly asking officers the reason for the arrest.
And the Mirror quotes another eyewitness as saying, “At no point while I was there, did I see her being abusive. When they were twisting her arm, she was screaming, that’s not abusive. They were causing her pain.”
Yesterday, the Met issued a statement in which they expressed “regret the upset that has been caused to the child”. Notably, there was no real apology for the wrongful arrest.
Nor has anyone offered any explanation for why the mother did not show her ticket or Oyster pass to the inspector when requested.
“We are seeking to make contact with the female in question to understand the wider circumstances,” the police said.
An IOPC spokesperson said: “We have received a complaint referral from the Metropolitan Police Service following an incident in Whitehorse Road, Croydon on 21 July where a woman was handcuffed.
“The complaint alleges the woman was racially profiled and verbally abused by an officer.
“We will now assess the referral and decide if any further action is required from us.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, the borough commander for Croydon, told BBC London, “Trust has taken a hit.”
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