Friday, March 27, 2009

London news round-up

Met squad record of abuse

A GROUP of police officers from the territorial support group at the centre of a “serious gratuitous and prolonged” attack on a British Muslim man, resulting in a court award of £60,000 in damages, were last week revealed to have been accused of dozens of other assaults against black and Asian men. Babar Ahmad was arrested in December 2003 as a terrorist suspect; he was punched, kicked, stamped on and strangled during his arrest by officers in the Metropolitan Police’s territorial support group (TSG).
Ahmad lodged a complaint and after six years of legal proceedings lawyers acting on behalf of Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson were forced to admit the abuse charges were true.
But according to papers submitted to the court, four of the officers involved had a record of 60 complaints and allegations of abuse levelled at them. At least 37 of these complaints came from black or Asian men.
The Met has admitted that since 1992 all six officers involved in the Ahmad assault have been the subjects of at least 77 complaints.
When Ahmad’s lawyers asked for details of these allegations the Met said it had “lost” several large mail sacks detailing at least 30 of the complaints.
Scotland Yard has admitted there were concerns about the conduct of these officers. The Independent Police Complaints Authority supervised an investigation carried out by the Met into the assault on Ahmad but none of the officers involved has been disciplined and all but one are still working for the TSG.
The Met claimed that its inquiries had found the complaints against the officers were, with one exception, found to be “unsubstantiated”.
Ahmad’s lawyer, Fiona Murphy, said the number of complaints should have led to a thorough inquiry.
“The horrifying nature and volume of complaints against these officers should have provoked an effective response from the Metropolitan Police and the IPCC long ago,” she said.
In one allegation in March 2007, one of the officers was accused of bundling a man into the back of a van and ordered him to kneel. The main replied: “This is not Guantánamo”. The officer seized him round the neck and discharged his CS gas while continuing to hold his throat. The man was then thrown from the van. The man suffered head, neck and eye injuries. The Met claimed no action was taken because the complaint was “incapable of proof” and so there was “no case to answer”.
Scotland Yard said that all but one of the 77 allegations against the six TSG officers was found to be unsubstantiated because the complainant failed to assist them any further, the complaint was withdrawn or informally resolved, or investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.
And they said the Met Directorate of Professional Standards was investigating the missing mail sacks containing 30 complaint dockets.

RMT strike ballot on jobs and pay

THE TUBE’S biggest union is to ballot nearly 10,000 members across London Underground and Transport for London (TfL) for strike action in two separate disputes centred on jobs and pay. As news emerged that the number of jobs under threat across the Tube and TfL could reach 3,000, RMT said it would ballot all its members at LUL, including former Metronet staff, as well as in the separate dispute at TfL. Balloting started this week and will close on Wednesday 18th April.
On London Underground, bosses are threatening to tear up an agreement aimed at safeguarding jobs, and has refused to rule out compulsory redundancies.
LUL has also refused to budge from an unacceptable five-year pay offer that gives no real-terms increase for four years, and which could even see pay cut, and there have been so many complaints of breaches of disciplinary and attendance procedures they appear co-ordinated.
TfL is also threatening compulsory redundancies as part of a £2.4 billion cuts package, and has so far failed to table any pay offer at all.
“London Underground seems to think that observing agreements is optional, and its plan to cut jobs is simply unacceptable,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said.
“After three months of stonewalling LUL has also tabled what is at best a five-year pay freeze which it knows full well could never be accepted, and its managers appear to have been given the nod to unleash a fresh round of bullying.
“LUL’s own ‘Valuing Time’ study acknowledges that our members’ productivity is at an all-time high, with passenger numbers up to record-breaking levels of four million a day.
“We said from the start that our members, whether in LUL or TfL, would not be made to pay for the failure and greed of bankers and privateers, and that any attempt to impose compulsory redundancies would be met with a ballot for industrial action.
“If LUL and TfL want to avoid confrontation they should withdraw their plans to slash jobs and guarantee there will be no forced redundancies, start talking seriously about pay and call off the bully managers,” Bob Crow said.

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