Leon Briggs: Police station memorial ‘a security risk’

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Beds Police has plans to remove a memorial outside Luton Police Station as it poses a ‘security risk’, the Luton News can reveal.

Leon Briggs, 39, of Ashburnham Road, Luton, died after being detained by police under section 136 of the Mental Health Act on November 4 2013.

The same day friends and family members gathered outside Luton Police Station on Buxton Road to lay flowers, candles and tributes.

Close to a year and a half later flowers and a number of momentos remain, but plans are now in place to remove them from view.

In an email to Leon’s family sent over the weekend, inspector Hob Hoque said that the tribute has caused safety concerns.

He wrote: “I totally understand the memorial is not at the forefront of your minds with everything else going on.

“Supt Upex, who is Divisional Commander for Luton, is also responsible for station security.

”Recently station security has been reviewed by experts and it’s become apparent the over grown memorial poses a security risk and needs to be removed. He added: “Supt Upex and I would like to work with you and Leon’s family to address the memorial.

“I hope this email does not come across as callous because genuinely I would really value a healthy sit down discussion next week to see how Supt Upex and I can progress this going forwards.”

Leon Briggs’ death is still being probed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is expected to publish its findings this Easter.

In a response to inspector Hoque, a Justice 4 Leon spokeperson said the decision was “shocking, disappointing and curious”.

J4L member Liberty Louise told the Luton News: “With the IPCC report due to be published soon this is insensitive timing, we are now waiting to hear back on why it was not previously a security risk but is now.

“It is a poignant place for Leon’s family as they go there on the 4th of every month and for us the memorial needs to stay there until the judicial process is over.

“There has never been any trouble, arrests or anything like that there.

“It has been a year and a half, why hasn’t this been raised previously?”

In a statement Beds Police chief contstable Colette Paul said: “It is regretful if we have caused any upset to Leon Briggs’ family who have been informed about the recommendations in the security report.

“It is correct that the report contains a recommendation to remove the memorial and the risk is being assessed as part of our overall review of estate security.

“We will be liaising with Leon Briggs’ family to be as sensitive as we can about removing the security risk but at the same time providing a safer option for a focus of vigil for the family and friends of Mr Briggs as well as meeting the security requirements.”