Police sorry after ‘appalling’ racist treatment

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 June 2015 | UPDATED: 08:37 03 June 2015

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A THREE-year battle by a Weston hate crime victim has seen police admit he was subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment and discriminated against on account of his race.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has offered an ‘unreserved apology’ to Tajudeen Taiwo and his family for a failure to protect them after the ‘appalling racist treatment’, both at the time of the incident and afterwards.

The mistakes were brought to light by Mr Taiwo, also known as Deen, after he fell victim to a racially-motivated attack in Brue Close on the Bournville estate in August 2012.

After Mr Taiwo moved a neighbour’s motorbike so he could open the door to his van, a group of 10-15 white adults arrived at his house, chanting racial abuse and threatening to kill him.

Mr Taiwo’s head was banged against a wall, cracking it open.

He went into his kitchen and walked out with a knife to protect himself and his five-year-old daughter, who had witnessed the attack on her father.

Two 999 calls were made to police. One said Mr Taiwo, aged 53, had been the victim of a racial assault. The second reported that a black man had a knife.

On arrival, police found 10-15 white men and Mr Taiwo, empty-handed and covered in blood from his head wound.

Mr Taiwo was threatened with a taser, arrested and detained for 35 hours, where he was charged with possession of an offensive weapon and threats to kill.

Mr Taiwo told police he had been the victim of a racially-motivated attack, but his allegation was not recorded or investigated, which goes against the constabulary’s hate crime policies.

Despite Mr Taiwo’s partner Kim Jones telling police her family were unsafe, no steps were taken to protect them.

Instead, housing association Knightstone Housing told Ms Jones her family would be evicted because her partner had been involved in a knife crime.

Now, three years on from the original incident, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has admitted it breached its duty under Article Three of the Human Rights Act.

The admission comes after Mr Taiwo contacted Bristol-based charity Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI) after an initial inquiry in 2013, ruled no officer had a conduct case to answer.

However, London solicitors firm Bhatt Murphy, brought civil action against the police on behalf of the family – and a fresh disciplinary panel concluded there had been a breach of 
duty.

In October, the force agreed to pay substantial damages to the family, and made a full admission under the Human Rights Act that the family had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment by police and they had been discriminated against.

Speaking to The Observer, Mr Taiwo said it ‘did not feel like justice’.

Alex Raikes from SARI said: “It has been a long journey to achieve some justice for this family who suffered appalling racist treatment, firstly at the hands of their attackers and then at the hands of the police who failed to afford them the protection to which they were entitled.

“Three years on from the event they are starting to piece their lives together.”

A constabulary spokesman said hate crime policies have been reviewed, while a recent re-organisation of the force has made supporting hate crime victims a priority.

The spokesman said: “In a personal letter to Deen and his family, Acting Chief Constable John Long apologised unreservedly for our failure to safeguard them at the time of the incident and afterwards, and for the devastating impact this had on them.

“We have learnt a great deal from Deen’s experience and we want to make sure that learning is embedded across the force.

“Together with Deen, his partner, Kim, and SARI, we have commissioned a film that will be part of an innovative training package to make officers understand the helplessness and despair Deen and Kim felt throughout their experience.”

The film – produced by Jon Mowat of Hurricane Media – represents the first time a police force has commissioned work of this type.

Lynette Nigh, assistant director for housing management at Knightstone Housing, said: “The first few days after the incident were very confusing. We received a number of conflicting reports and we were very much led by the police response.

“After the initial confusion, we worked very closely with the family and SARI to make sure the family received the support they needed, including temporary and permanent rehousing.”

Ms Nigh added that Knightstone reached out to the community to find out if there were other victims, and has since taken action to strengthen its hate crime policies.

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