‘No lessons learnt since custody death’ say campaigners

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“No lessons have been learnt since custody death” campaigners have said, following an allegation of police brutality towards a man with learning difficulties.

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

Faruk Ali was allegedly punched and dragged across the pavement by Bedfordshire Police officers who mistook him for a robber when he was putting his bins out.

Friends and family organised a community meeting at Bury Park Community Centre to discuss the issue, which Justice 4 Leon Briggs campaigners attended.

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 were dismayed to hear of the degrading treatment and unreasonable force used on Mr Ali that was allegedly committed by Bedfordshire Police.

“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.

“We also find it scandalous that the police did not report the incident back to Luton Police Station,and if it had not had been for witnesses,this incident would never have been reported.

“This further highlights a serious neglect of openness and transparency,within the force,and it is now imperative that Leon’s Law(the use of body worn cameras in all interactions with the public) is now enforced.”

The group plan to develop their own police complaints system “to ensure fairness, equality and accountability” as they say the police complaints system is flawed.

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. We will not accept excuses for failings any longer,and feel we now have to protect ourselves. We support Mr Ali and his family in seeking the right conclusion in this case.”

A Beds Police spokesperson said: “Bedfordshire Police is sorry for the distress Mr Ali and his family feel regarding the actions officers took due to their concerns for Mr Ali’s wellbeing on February 20 in Whitby Road, Luton.

This incident is being taken seriously and an investigation has been launched by the Beds, Cambs and Herts Professional Standards Department which will be supervised by the IPCC. A senior officer from Luton Police Station has spoken with the Ali family directly to reassure them their concerns are being fully addressed. They will be continually and fully updated as the facts of what happened are established.

“Bedfordshire Police is aware that concerns from the wider community have also been made and will form part of the investigation. Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact 101 in confidence.”

The spokesperson said all front line officers receive Disability Awareness training in order to assist them when interacting with vulnerable people and any findings from this investigation will be incorporated into the on-going

development of officers. A review of the wider safeguarding measures available to the family is also underway with other statutory care providers and partner organisations.