At Newham Monitoring Project we frequently receive reports of police racism so sadly the shocking recording of a policeman making racist comments to Mauro Demetrio last summer or allegations of brutality by Terelle Ferguson come as no surprise.
What's rare is that they make the headlines or receive any kind of effective redress. In fact, the only thing different about Mauro Demetrio, who we have supported, is that he was quick-thinking and courageous enough to record the abuse on a mobile and had the good fortune that it was preserved.
Unfortunately the number of reports we receive indicate that this is not an issue of a couple of racist police officers but a far deeper problem. To challenge racism and abuse of power we need to increase transparency around police interactions, improve accountability and provide greater protection to members of the public. CCTV is now commonplace in almost every part of public life, except for where they are most needed – in the back of police vans.
Following the public outcry over Mauro Demetrio's treatment, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe indicated that he might consider support CCTV cameras in police vans, but he has given no timeframe as to when this might happen.
The impact of street and public-order policing on young people during the Olympics has been raised continually with us as an issue of concern by local people. With this in mind, we are bracing ourselves for the Olympics and are gravely concerned about how local communities will survive the anticipated militarisation of Newham.
We call on the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to prioritise this issue and take steps now so that there is a pilot scheme of CCTV cameras in police vans in the main Olympic host borough, Newham, by the start of the Olympics on July 27th 2012.