Police Officer Guilty – But Where Is The Change?

Attacked for £1.75

Last July a black mother, Jocelyn Agyemang, whilst travelling on the bus with her young son on Whitehorse Road, less than two mile from our kitchen, was attacked by the police. They injured her shoulder in the assault as they violently pulled her down and handcuffed her in front of her traumatised young son.

Why? They falsely accused her of not paying her £1.75 fare on the bus! A quick check on her Oyster card revealed she had in fact paid – they had arrested her for no reason, unless being black was a crime.

Institutionally Racist

Report after report shows that the Police are still institutionally racist, yet nothing is done about it. Here in Croydon a black person is still 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than a white person. And yet no action is being taken to resolve this racist policing of our communities.

The overwhelming majority of our guests at the Resistance Kitchen being from ethnic minorities – 40% Asian, 37% black – directly bear the brunt of such racist policing.

Shielding The Perpetrator

Outraged, the community demanded justice for Jocelyn Agyemang. But rather than come clean, the police at each stage have tried to shield the perpetrators.

Video of the attack taken by community members showed at least five police officers present with one officer in particular assaulting her. Despite this evidence the police initially denied any wrongdoing. They claimed the community video only showed a select part of what had happened, their body cam footage would reveal a different story. They accused the mother of being abusive, resulting in her arrest.

The body cam in fact revealed the opposite to be true – that the main perpetrator PC Perry Lathwood had initiated the attack, joined by another male officer they pulled the mother down to the floor by her shoulder, in front of her crying son. As she screamed in agony “you’re hurting me, get off my shoulder”, they abused her with derogatory language. Other police officers just watched the mother being beaten without doing anything to stop it. The police were forced to open a IOPC investigation for racially aggravated assault.

During the investigation the police force refused to suspend PC Perry Lathwood, and to the horror of the community he was allowed to continue policing the black community, just in a different location.

The CPS charged PC Perry Lathwood with assault by beating. Yesterday, he was found guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court, his sentencing will be on June 14th.

Even after he has been found guilty of assaulting a black women, the Met police still refuses to sack him. Instead they issued a statement of support “Despite today’s conviction, we will continue to support the officer and continue to support our workforce, to ensure officers have the confidence to act decisively and make arrests when they believe they have the powers to do so”.

Rather than acknowledge a convicted felon among their ranks is unacceptable, that they need to clean their house as a matter of urgency, they instead issued a statement lamenting the verdict, not the crime: “This verdict is a huge setback to our ability to rebuild trust with Londoners”, and said they will wait for the out come of a possible appeal before acting.

Assistant commissioner Mark Twist said: “When an officer is convicted of a criminal offence, their conviction will often be considered at an accelerated misconduct hearing as soon as possible after proceedings have finished. In this case we will wait to hear if PC Lathwood will appeal the conviction, and work to fully understand the decision of the court and its implications for policing. We do not intend to consider an accelerated misconduct hearing in this case.”

The Community

The Resistance Kitchen is appalled by police actions and subsequent handling of this case. The apology the Met police have issued to the victims family and the wider community runs hollow when they continue to support the perpetrator and refuse to punish him with immediate dismissal.

Why were the other police officers, present during the attack, not brought to task over their role?

What procedures have they put in place to ensure this never happens again?

We also have to question the purpose of having a task force dedicated to fare dodging, targetting one of the poorest areas of Croydon with a predominantly high ethnic minority population. Bus fares are capped at £1.75 for any journey, its hardly grand larceny. We have to question if there are other motives at play.

Black and Asian children in Croydon are 2.3x more likely living in poverty than white children, and a disproportionately high number of ethnic minorities are being made homeless – in Croydon 3 out of every 4 families being made homeless or threatened with homelessness is non-white. We have guests coming to our kitchen that are forced to sleep on the night bus as they have no other shelter.

Is it really the best use of police resources to target this already marginalised community?

Help raise awareness by sharing