Luton police face growing anger over Faruk Ali incident

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Beds top cop Colette Paul has written an unprecedented letter to Luton residents in the wake of claims of assault against an autistic man.

Police in the town are already under fire following the death of Leon Briggs in police custody in November last year.

On February 20 this year the family of Faruk Ali, 33, who is autistic, claim he was badly beaten by two police officers outside his Whitby Road home.

Initially the officers were placed on restrictive duties while an internal investigation took place.

But following a heated community meeting and growing concerns in the wider community, the officers involved “are no longer to have any direct contact with the public whilst this investigation is taking place,” said Ms Paul.

But although the ‘open’ letter to residents was placed on Beds police website and sent to the family of Mr Ali, by Tuesday morning it had not been sent to local press along with the usual police press releases.

Mr Ali’s brother, Dhobir Ali, said they were still not satisfied with the response.

“They haven’t suspended the officers in question,” he said. “Lots of stuff in the statement is contradictory.”

In her letter, Ms Paul says following a review of the case and in the light of new information she had moved the officers involved.

The case has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Leicestershire force will now take charge of the investigation.

Chief Supt Jim Saunders, based at Kempston, will move to Luton to take direct responsibility for leadership of the police response and the community cohesion team in Luton will be increasing.

“I have cleared my appointments and I will be out and about in the forthcoming weeks in the community, speaking with those people who are concerned,” said Ms Paul.

Faruk Ali, who has moderate learning disability and is autistic, was allegedly injured by police offers who mistook him for a robber as he put the bins out at his home.

His sister Husna Begum said she was woken by the sound of Faruk screaming and says she saw a man dragging him across the floor and punching him.

Dhobir Ali said his brother was now terrified. “He is really traumatised,” he said. “He can’t sleep at night and he is waking really early. He’s really scared, especially if he hears a siren.”

The Justice 4 Leon Briggs committee, who have been campaigning since the death of Mr Briggs in police custody at Luton Police Station, said they were “dismayed” to hear of the latest incident.

A spokesperson said: “Mr Ali was wearing a badge displayed to alert people he was autistic,and after a previous incident in 2011, Mr Ali was on the police database that would have flagged up his condition. No duty of care seems to have taken place whatsoever.

“We feel that absolutely no lessons have been learnt since the death in custody of Leon Briggs,who was detained under section 136 of the mental health act on 4th November 2013.

“It is appalling that the treatment of vulnerable people by Beds Police,leads to assaults and deaths,and as a community,we can no longer accept the policing methods that are currently in place. The officers in the case are on restricted duties,whereas suspension is a true measure of how seriously this incident should be dealt with.

“It is now imperative that Leon’s Law(the use of body worn cameras in all interactions with the public) is now enforced.”

The spokesperson said: “The trust in the police is already at an all time low,and this incident has destroyed any remaining confidence, trust or faith.”