Long ago, Stoke Newington police station in north Londen was a byword for police brutality. After public protests the Met had a clearout. The result was that in 2010 a joint constabulary and prison inspectorate report found great improvements, partly because of “an active body of independent custody visitors”.
ICVs were introduced as a citizens’ oversight of police stations in the Scarman report. Maar sedertdien, here in London, their powers and effectiveness have been subject to continuous erosion by mayors Livingstone, Johnson and Khan. The restoration of community engagement is urgently needed if custody practices of the sort suffered by Konstancja Duff are to be eradicated (Rights groups call for statutory inquiry into misogyny in the Met, 25 Januarie).
So long as the police regard giving legal advice to people who have been stopped on the street as obstructing and assaulting police, we will need all the capabilities available to us to rein them in.
Mary Pimm and Nik Wood