A local youth-led police monitoring group has spoken out over footage of an April stop and search in the borough in which an officer appears to knee a handcuffed Black man in the head.
The Metropolitan Police announced over the weekend that it would voluntarily refer the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), but Hackney Account dismissed the move, saying that the IOPC’s own legitimacy and independence “has always been and still is questionable”.
In the video, shared on social media, an 18-year-old shouts ‘I’m not resisting’ and ‘I didn’t do anything’ before appearing to be kneed in the head on 22 April on Middleton Road in Hackney, after being stopped by plain clothes police officers on proactive patrols in response to ongoing gang tensions and recent violent incidents.
A spokesperson for Hackney Account said: “This is only an issue because it got published in the Guardian. That’s why we’re talking about it, and why the police are doing what they are doing about it. This happened back in April.
“It’s pretty upsetting and distressing to watch, but it is not an exceptional incident. This is how policing operates in the borough. Getting the young man on the floor and putting his hands in handcuffs behind his back, that is not exceptional. That is routine.
“It’s not in any way surprising, this kind of thing. The young people [of Hackney Account] have been investigating this for a year in a systematic way, and it’s also something they’ve been seeing since they’ve been growing up in Hackney.
“We’ve had a long time to think through what these kinds of incidents mean, and how we ought to change the police, and change things to make things better.
“It’s important that people are up in arms about this incident, but we need to be moving quite quickly towards practical and workable solutions for fundamental change to the way police operate in the borough.
“Building up trust and confidence is important, but that is only going to work if it corresponds to police activities that build up that kind of trust.”
Hackney Account, which has been pressing the police on a range of issues including the use of handcuffs, scrutiny and accountability over racial profiling and stop and search, will be presenting a report on their research around local trust and confidence in the police at a council meeting on stop and search tomorrow evening.
Jermain Jackman, co-chair of Hackney Young Futures Commission, said: “The days of superficial and cosmetic changes to our Metropolitan Police are over. We require deep institutional reforms, not just for the police service but for the IOPC that are supposed to hold them to account. I currently have no trust in either.”
The police have said that three men on bikes were “requested repeatedly” by officers to stop, who then stopped the 18-year-old on a weapons search.
Officers handcuffed him and placed him on the floor in order to “mitigate any potential issues should a weapon be present”.
After the man was searched, no weapon was found and no arrest was made.
A police statement said that each stop and search is “dealt with on its own merits at the discretion of the individual officers involved, taking into account various aspects including behaviour and compliance”.
It added: “Officers have to make these judgement calls regularly on a daily basis, often in difficult circumstances.
“They understand that their actions will be scrutinised as they go about their work and that the public have the right to hold them to account where appropriate.”
BCU commander Marcus Barnett said: “I am aware that this footage has raised concerns in the community and of course the incident should be fully investigated. Given the public interest in this matter it is also appropriate that we voluntarily refer it to the IOPC.”