Community Defence, March 1993


Police lies exposed in Court of Appeal

FOUR people jailed for possessing drugs planted on them by Stoke Newington police had their conviction squashed earlier this month.

The Appeal Court ruling is a breakthrough in the campaign to halt police crime, and a blow for Stoke Newington’s senior officers who who wish to whitewash corruption. But it is not justice.

Although eight police officers have been transferred and six suspended, not a single officer has stood trial for framing innocent people. And many of their victims still languish in jail while the legal system blocks or delays appeals.

Only Detective Constable Roy Lewandowski is serving an 18-month jail sentence for theft from a manslaughter victim’s house.


But he remains unpunished for his part in drug dealing and falsifying evidence. And, more alarmingly, so do his crooked colleagues — who continue to walk free, often patrolling local streets. A Hackney Community Defence Association inquiry, launched last year and based on extensive interviews with those framed by police, has exposed a core of 13 offending officers, and suggests up to 30 others may be involved.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard’s corruption probe, Operation Jackpot, continues at a sluggish pace. Although it is investigating drug dealing, theft and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, it is a police complaints and not a criminal investigation, working behind close doors. Its findings may never be made public. Whatever Operation Jackpot decides, the catalogue of quashed prosecutions, acquittals and dropped charges shows Stoke Newington police are already discredited.

VICTORY: Ida Oderinde, Rennie Kingsley and Dennis Tulloch outside the Appeal Court after their convictions were quashed

Ida Oderinde, Rennie Kingsley, Dennis Tulloch and Everald Brown were cleared of drug charges on 2 March after prosecution barrister Kenneth Aylett admitted: “There are police officers upon whom suspicion has fallen as to their reliability in any evidence they may give in court.”

Most of those facing trumped-up charges are black, including the four cleared this month. Kingsley, who was sentenced to four months after police planted cocaine and LSD in his home, said: “There is a lot of racism in a system which only takes the word of police officers. The officers who raided me were all white and the people in court were all white.”

The four received no apology. Their appeals were adjourned three times before reaching court. Kingsley said: “I am very bitter, angry and disappointed that the system failed us. I just wish all this had taken place earlier.”

Want to know  more?
Discover the full story in these two HCDA pamphlets

Report into police crime in Hackney, 1989-1991. Presented to the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in November 1991.

HCDA’s first report into Stoke Newington drug squad’s criminal activities. Includes personal accounts and describes how HCDA investigated the police.

£1 each from HCDA, Colin Roach Centre, 10A Bradbury Street, London N16 7NY.



Outside “Take-Two”, Kingsland High Street Wednesday 23 December 1992, 5.15pm

Did you see a young black woman get assaulted and manhandled by police officers?

If you see anyoody being unjustly treated by the police, you might be able to act as a witness for them. If we stand together and support each other we can rid our community of police injustice. If your have any information, please contact HCDA on 071 249 0193.

Officers  planted crack on innocent man

IDA ODERINDE, Dennis Tulloch, Rennie Kingsley and Everald Brown have had their convictions quashed. But others framed by the police are still waiting.

In 1990, Hugh Prince was in a Dalston shebeen when it was raided by police. An officer ordered Prince into an empty, unlit room to be searched. When he refused, PCs Christopher Hart and James Havercroft threatened Prince with a sledgehammer and planted eight rocks of crack cocaine in his cigarette packet.

PC Ronald Palumbo – who helped frame the four cleared earlier this month – and DC Barry Lyons took charge of the case.

“They took me to my home and searched it without me there – I had to wait in the car,” Prince says. “They didn’t find anything. It was like a big joke to them. I made a complaint, but nothing was done about it, and now I’m a convicted criminal.”

Prince was sentenced to two months in jail for possession of crack. He was released in January 1991. He says: “Palumbo and Lyons didn’t give evidence in court. Although they’ve been sus-pended, it’s no good to me. I’m still struggling to clear my name. Hart and Havercroft are still at Stoke Newington police station. “

“Although it’s three years since it happened, I live in fear of it happening again, because nobody’s taking any notice.”


Prince’s grounds for appeal have yet to be lodged, but three more cases are waiting to be heard by the Appeal Court: those of Sirus Baptiste and Leroy Lewis – who were fitted up by PC Terrence Chitty – and Eula Carter, whose case was adjourned on 2 March.

HCDA does not know how many others have been framed. While the police conduct their secret inquiry, they are condemning people to stay in jail for crimes they did not commit. HCDA has investigated two other cases – Danny Bailey and Winston Thompson. We are convinced they were planted with drugs.

Bailey is serving three-and-a-half years for intent to supply crack. He was planted with one rock by DC Peter Popham in Sandringham Road in 1991. There is evidence that Popham committed perjury while giving testimony. Thompson was released from prison last year serving 11 months of a two-and-a-half year sentence for intent to supply crack. He was planted with five rocks by PC Palumbo on Sandringham Road in 1991. Grounds for appeal have been lodged and he is waiting to hear if his case has been referred to the Appeal Court.

Many more people have contacted HCDA claiming to have been fitted up by Stoke Newington police. Some of these allegations, which include robbery cases, involve officers at the centre of the police crime ring. HCDA has not thoroughly examined these cases but believes they warrant further investigation. We know of ten such cases, including:

  • Maxine Edwards, who claims she was planted with crack by DC Beinard Gillan and PC Gerrard Carroll.
  • Cecil Forbes, who claims he was planted with crack by PC Chitty.
  • Val Howell, who claims she was planted with crack by DC Peter McCulloch.
  • Mohamadou Njie, who claims he was fitted up by PC Chitty and DC McCulloch for intent to supply crack.


THIS month’s appeals against false drug convictions attracted extensive media coverage. But while the media focused on the appeal decision, it ignored the other people who have been wrongly convicted – despite having been given detailed briefings by HCDA. HCDA’s role in getting cases to the Appeal Court was mentioned in some TV and radio reports but over-looked in every national newspaper except The Guardian. If the group had not unrolled its banner outside the Appeal Court on 2 March, it would have been shunted aside altogether.

The media likes to portray passive victims rather than people fighting back, and overlooks the fact that Ida Oderinde, Rennie Kingsley and others are centrally involved in HCDA. We have moved on from being just victims and it’s time the press caught up.

The media has also ignored HCDA’s call for an independent judicial inquiry. Instead, journalists run around like headless chickens looking for “media-friendly” sources such as Diane Abbott and Liberty.

And as ever, the police are given their usual platform. The recent appeals were portrayed as hampering the efforts of Stoke Newington Chief Superintendent Niall Mulvihill and his “incorruptible” officers to get drugs off the streets of Hackney.

Whenever the media chooses to report on a subject, it treats it as an isolated incident, hardly worth its interest. The media rushes to respond to “topical” issues and overlooks the problems we face in the community.

The media comes and goes and leaves us to deal with the problems. Journalists focus on law and order to the exclusion of all else — including the unemployment and poverty that fuel crime.

HCDA uncovers web of corruption
HCDA believes that a core of at least 13 officers have been at the centre of police crime in Hackney. One is in jail and three are suspended on full pay. Another, Sergeant Gerrard Carroll, shot himself on 29 January 1992 — the day when eight officers were transferred. But most of the suspect 13 are still on the beat.

DC Roy Lewandowski is serving 18 months for stealing from the house of Hackney manslaughter victim David Berman. In February, the two men convicted of killing Berman — James Blake and Francis Hart — had their convictions quashed. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, said Lewandowski’s evidence was “rotten”. Lewandowski’s antics prompted the setting up of Scotland Yard’s corruption Inquiry, Operation Jackpot, in 1991, after jailed crack dealer Pearl Cameron revealed that Lewandowski was her supplier.

There is a danger that senior officers will focus accusations on Lewandowski and a few others in order to let the rest off the hook. Yet most of the suspect 13 appear in several HCDA cases. Even the Crown Prosecution Service is reluctant to prosecute drug cases brought by Stoke Newington police. On 4 January, it dropped five cases because of doubts about police evidence. In three of them, PC Terrence Chitty, one of our 13, was a key witness.

The extent of police crime suggests senior officers know about it and either condone it or cannot control junior officers. HCDA knows of officers forging each other’s signatures, bypassing the system controlling the issue of notebooks, leaving relations with informers unsupervised, and flouting complaints procedures.

Police crime in Hackney requires an independent judicial inquiry. Drug dealing, theft and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice are criminal offences — whoever commits them. Those officers who have wrecked people’s lives and gained from corruption should be punished as criminals.

Police lawlessness has set back the fight against other forms of crime in a poor working-class area. A public examination will be able to propose changes to improve society’s ability to deal with all crime.

The Suspect Thirteen

  1. PS Gerrard Carroll Deceased; involved in six HCDA cases.
  2. PC Mark Carroll Transferred; 10 cases.
  3. PC Terrence Chitty Transferred; 12 cases.
  4. PC Bruce Galbraith Suspended; five cases.
  5. DC Bernard Gillan Transferred; six cases.
  6. DC Paul Goscombe Transferred; five cases; Lewandowski’s partner August 1990.
  7. DC Christopher Hart No action; 12 cases.
  8. DS Graham Lebiond On long-term sick leave; one case; Lewandowski’s partner 1989 and 1990.
  9. DC Roy Lewandowski Convicted of theft; four cases.
  10. DC Barry Lyons Suspended; eight cases.
  11. DC Peter McCulloch Transferred; seven cases; Lewandowski’s assistant in Blake and Hart false convic-tions.
  12. DC Ronald Palumbo Suspended; 14 cases.
  13. DS Robert Watton Transferred; four cases.

Centre unites local campaigns

THE Colin Roach Centre, set up by Hackney Community Defence Association and the Trade Union Support Unit, opened on 12 January.

The opening marked the tenth anniversary of Colin Roach’s fatal shooting in the foyer of Stoke Newington police station. Roach’s father unveiled a plaque, and then more than 350 people joined the fifth annual We Remember march to commemorate those who have suffered or died in police custody. A wreath was laid outside Stoke Newington police station.

Ten years ago, Colin Roach’s death prompted a vigorous campaign supported by trade unionists and community groups. The new centre represents the coming together of these two strands of resistance.

HCDA and the Trade Union Support Unit have worked closely for five years. When new premises were needed, they decided to combine resources. But the centre also aims to reach beyond these groups and develop campaigning organisations to fight all attacks on working-class people.

The centre has formed an anti-fascist collective and an anti-corruption campaign, and is home to Hackney’s Miners Support Committee. It holds regular discussions, video events, produces the bi-monthly Hackney Heckler newsletter, and holds surgeries to advise on issues such as squatting and the council tax.

If you would like to get involved in any of these activities or want to set up a new campaign, contact HCDA on 071 249 0193 or TUSU on 071 249 8086.

Membership of the Colin Roach Centre is £5 a month waged (with reductions for low waged), and £1 a month unwaged.

The Colin Roach Centre, 10a Bradbury Street, London N16 &IN.


VICTIMISED local council workers last month started a campaign to challenge council corruption.

Hackney Anti-Corruption Campaign plans an in-depth investigation into corruption allegations. It is backed by HCDA and the Trade Union Support Unit, and based at the Colin Roach Centre. Most Hackney residents know corruption is rampant, but feel powerless to stop it. The Labour and Conservative parties are not fighting corruption — their main interest is in attacking workers.

Hackney is one of Europe’s poorest regions. The black market economy fuels corruption. Textile sweatshops avoid VAT and pay refugees low wages; police officers are involved in organised crime; and a Labour Party mafia, including some councillors, senior council officers and trade union officers, runs a £300 million empire. Meanwhile, the Hackney Gazette stifles public debate.

If you have any information, please contact HACC on 071 249 8086 or 071 249 0193.

Community Defence, undated (summer 1992?)


The most serious case of corruption in the Metropolitan Force in 20 years. That’s how one of New Scotland Yard’s top cops anonymously described the scandal at Stoke Newington Police Station. The Yard’s anti-corruption squad, CIB2, has been running a high level inquiry into allegations of drug dealing and planting at the North London “Supernick” for more than a year. “Operation Jackpot” – as the police call their investigation – was set up following the arrest of a Stoke Newington PC, Roy Lewindowski, who has been charged with theft and VAT fraud.

The six strong “Jackpot” team have tapped the telephones of officers under investigation, and taken hundreds of statements about corruption and malpractice. They are thought to be investigating more than a dozen officers up the rank of sargeant. Scotland Yard claim that the inquiry has led to the transfer of eight officers and leaks from Stoke Newington revealed that 27 disciplinary notices had been served at the “supernick” .

In addition to the arrest of Lewindowski, two officers have been suspended. DC Ronald Palumbo and PC Bruce Galbraith were suspended in June, after both had featured in media reports about the scandal and Palumbo had been named by in Parliament by Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Brian Sedgemore.

The MP also named PS Gerry Carroll, formerly a custody officer at Stoke Newington, who shot himself dead with a police firearm after his mysterious transfer to Barkingside Station. Sedgemore claimed that Carroll was involved in organised crime.

But HCDA has been running its own independent inquiry into the scandal. We have discovered that at least 19 officers involved in drugs operations at Stoke Newington up to a year and a half ago are no longer serving at the station. HCDA is investigating more than 30 drug plants stretching back to May 1989. The cases involve more than 40 officers up to the rank of inspector.

Many of those who have approached us have independently made similar allegations against a core of about a dozen officers. HCDA has uncovered evidence that police officers:

  • were supplying drugs to as many as four street level dealers selling in the Sandringham Road area from late 1989 onwards.
  • were protecting their dealers by warning them about police anti-drug operations.
  • took out anybody they suspected of competing with their dealers, sometimes by planting them with drugs.
  • covered their drug dealing activities by claiming that their dealers were police informers.

There is no way of knowing how many people have been planted with drugs by Stoke Newington Police over the past three years, but the “Jackpot Team” are investigating more than one hundred complaints, and it is certain that many of those planted would not have bothered making an official complaint. One officer was making up to £2000 per week from the racket, and one of the dealers that police were supplying was selling up to 30 rocks of crack a day.


A report of the HCDA investigation into the Stoke Newington police drugs scandal AVAILABLE FROM THE HCDA OFFICE Price &2.00 (inc P+P)


H.C.D.A. has recently completed negotiations on the shared rental of four offices and a meeting room. The coming together of H .C .D. A. with other organisations has allowed us to continue with our campaigning. The Family Center, our location for four years, has been closed and will be demolished. The as-yet unnamed center will become an independent community center offering unique facilities for people in Hackney. To enable the center to succeed it needs the support of the community, it needs to be used. Advice sessions and social events are planned. The meeting room is available for hire. An official opening is proposed for September 1, with a public meeting to launch a membership of supporters. All progressive people are invited.


Police tactics against squatters in Hackney have been dealt a ‘double whammy’ by a recent series of court cases. A total of six people were acquitted of charges resulting from two raids on squatters parties in a recent series of trials, which saw police accounts of the incidents clearly discredited.

The raids, on Chat’s Palace in March 1991 and the Neville Arms earlier this year, both saw clashes provoked by the police, and a large number of arrests. They are part of a continuing police attempt to criminalise squatters in Hackney.

At Chat’s Palace, police were called to a benefit gig for Poll Tax prisoners by the venue management when a fight broke out. They arrived half-an-hour later, by which time the incident had long finished. There were scuffles as they entered the venue at around midnight, but the most serious charges resulted from arrests some time later.

A group of three people were charged with obstruction and violent disorder after a bottle was allegedly thrown at police. PC Hargreaves told a bemused jury that officers were called to a disturbance at an anti-Poll Tax meeting, and arrived only to be immediately attacked by participants in a spontaneous demonstration. The raid took place on the eve of the anniversary march against Poll Tax through Trafalgar Square, and all those arrested were held in custody until after the demonstration was over.

At the time, squatters groups and anti-Poll Tax campaigners referred to this tactic as internment. Cases are still coming up from the Neville Arms raid, but the precedent set by the one trial so far is good. A charge of assaulting police was dismissed by magistrates at Highbury after even they couldn’t bring themselves to believe PC Andrew Thomas’ account of how the defendent had spat at him through the open window of a car from over 20 feet away. PC Thomas also gave unconvincing evidence to the jury in the Chat’s Palace bottle throwing trial. Despite serious anomalies in police evidence, the case were only won by careful preparation – tracing witnesses, taking statements and piecing together a coherent account of the events leading up to the arrests.


On March 19th 1992 Mrs Marie Burke, a Black woman in her 70’s, was awarded £50 000 damages by a Croydon jury against the police.

Mrs Burke and her husband Edgar took out a joint civil action against the police. The award was without doubt a victory, however it needs to be seen in the context of the whole case. The victory was widely reported in the national press.

What they did not report was how the Metropolitan Police conducted their defence against Mr and Mrs Burke’ s civil action for trespass, assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Nor did they report on how Mr Burke lost his civil action and how Mrs Burke nearly lost hers.

The Facts

This was the first case taken up by HCDA – on January 15th 1989.

The Burkes’ car had been involved in a minor road traffic accident while being driven by a family friend. Mr Burke, then aged 76, was ill in bed at the time of the accident but Hackney police officers insisted that he had been driving the car. When Mr Burke refused to be breathalysed, he was manhandled out of his home by three police officers and taken to Hackney police station in his underwear.

After five minutes in police custody he was released without being breathalysed and without charge.

During the arrest Mrs Burke, then aged 70, objected to the way in which the police were treating her husband. He is a diabetic and, at his request, she took his tablets and a jug of water out to him in the police van, dressed only in her nightclothes. She didn’t reach the van.

PC Tina Martin wrestled her to the ground where she was held for several minutes. This scene was witnessed by a passer-by. Mrs Burke was arrested and charged with actual bodily harm against Martin. She was held in custody for a little under three hours. She was strip-searched in Hackney police station.

The police dropped the charge against Mrs Burke two days later.

The Hearing

Mr and Mrs Burke’ s civil action was heard in front of an all white jury, most of whom were over 40. The police could not challenge the account presented by Mr and Mrs Burke. Instead they made it into a political trial by ignoring the facts of the case and concentrating the jurors’ minds on “anti-police agitators” in Hackney.

The central plank of the police’ s defence was that the two old aged pensioners, who the jury no doubt felt great sympathy for had “allowed themselves to be used” by Hackney Community Defence Association, whose members were present in the public gallery of the court.

One officer caused consternation in the police ranks when described what had happened in much the sane way as Mr and Mrs Burke. He even said another officer “might have” been pinning Mrs Burke on the ground.

The Findings

The police had a sympathetic jury – white, middle-aged, respectable working and lower middle class people do not want to believe that the public servants who are responsible for their safety go around assaulting OAPs.

The jury were unanimous when rejecting Mr Burke’ s case. They were also unanimous when rejecting most of Mrs Burke’ s claims. However, by seven to one they found in favour of Mrs Burke on five out of ten of her points. They found that she had been assaulted, falsely imprisoned and maliciously prosecuted.

There was a strong element of racism in the jury’s findings. Where it was a straight question of who to believe, two black people or the police, they found in favour of the police. They only found for Mrs Burke because a white passer-by, and middle class at that, witnessed her being pinned to the ground in a most painful way with 28 officers present on the scene. And even then, one juror couldn’t manage to accept that the police had behaved wrongly!

After all this, the jury awarded Mrs Burke £15,000 compensation for having been falsely imprisoned for nearly three hours, £20,000 compensation for having been held on the ground and manhandled and £15,000 compensation for malicious prosecution, despite the fact that the charge had been dropped within 48 hours!

It was as if the jury had felt guilty about what they had done, and made up for it by awarding Mrs Burke vast amounts of money.

Justice Denied

The Croydon jury arrived at a perverse verdict. The police must have wanted to appeal against the amount of damages awarded to Mrs Burke. But, to have done so would have meant that Mr Burke’s case would also be reconsidered. As it stood, the police could claim that the jury had found only one police officer, Tina Martin, to have behaved wrongly, and the other 27 had done nothing wrong at all. The police did not appeal. They must have decided that £50 000, and tens of thousands more in costs was the inflated price of a cover-up.

The Burkes write…

Dear HCDA, I am writing to thank you all for the help and support given to my parents, Mr and Mrs Burke. The pain and humiliation they suffered is impossible to put into words. At the time, they were over 70 years old, they were terrorised in their own home, dragged onto the street, assaulted in full view of the neighbours and then carted off to the police station in their nightclothes.

Then there was the stress of the civil action.During the trial the police tried to make out that my parents were some sort of political activists trying to stir up trouble with HCDA always in the background, telling them what to do. HCDA gave us good advice, helped us deal with our solicitors, and gave us moral and practical support. My parents did not need encouraging or influencing; they wanted justice and compensation in court for their injuries and punishment for the police officers that had assaulted them.

Nothing has happened to the officers that were involved, they are still working in the same way, doing God only knows what to innocent people. We have to get on with the rest of our lives; all we have left is a bitter taste in our mouths.

Yours sincerely,
Annette Monerville.

Readers’ Letters

Dear HCDA, On Thursday 4th June, I read in the Guardian newspaper that group of lawyers, HCDA, and the people that they represent, met with Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Brian Sedgemore to discuss the investigation into corruption at Stoke Newington Police Station. In the report, there was no mention of Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington . Was she present at the meeting? If not, why not? The station is in her constituency, and many of the people who have suffered live there. Was she invited? If not, why not? I would be interested to know if she was asked to the meeting, and if she didn’t come, whether she has explained why.

Yours in solidarity,
Name and Adress withheld at writer’s request.

HCDA replies: Diane Abbott was indeed asked to attend, and in fact her office booked the meeting room in the House of Commons. It is true that many of those whose cases we are trying to get re-opened are her constituents. They are also all black, and for both these reasons we were very disappointed that she did not come.

Up against the law: JUVENILE LAW – Pt.1

Special safeguards exist to protect young people and juveniles from the police. Here, we present an introduction to this important area of the law.

Legally speaking, a young person is anyone between the ages of 17 and 21 and a juvenile is anyone under the age of 16 years.

Stop and search

Police powers to stop young people and juveniles are identical to those for adults. They must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the person ought to be searched for illegal items:

  • stolen property
  • drugs
  • a blade or sharp point
  • an offensive weapon
  • tools which may be used to commit burglary, theft, taking a motor vehicle or for obtaining property by deception.

The police can only conduct a street search in a public place. This means that they cannot come into a school because this is not a place open to the general public. If police officers come to your school to carry out a search without arrest you should ensure that they have the permission of a Headteacher and discover the reasons that the Head has given.

Force can be used to conduct the search. It must be reasonable and used only as a last resort. If the police use force which is excessive you are entitled to defend yourself. The Police will have to justify themselves and show the violence they used was reasonable in all circumstances.

The police have no powers to strip search anyone in a public place. If they want to conduct a strip search they must remove a person to somewhere not in public such as a police van or station.

Every officer carrying out a search must tell the person his name and the police station to which he is attached. He must also give his reasons for his search and say where a copy of the written record of his search cab be obtained. If the officer is not in uniform he must show his warrant card to prove his identity.

Further practical information about the topics listed below – and others – will appear in future issues of Community Defence:

  • Arrest
  • Interviews on arrest
  • Information on arrest
  • At the police station
  • Place of arrest
  • Bail
  • Search on arrest
  • At court

Watch this space!


The Hackney Community Defence Association was set up in the Summer of 1988. It is a self-help group which consists of people who have suffered police injustice. It is an unfunded organisation which survives entirely on donations. All our work is done by volunteers.

Because of the limitations on our resources, we restrict our work to residents of the London Borough of Hackney, or people whose cases involve police officers from one of the Borough’s three stations: City Road, Hackney and Stoke Newington.

We don’t provide victims of police malpractice with a service. We don’t take up people’s cases on their behalf. People who have suffered at the hands of the police play a major part in preparing their own cases, attend our meetings and help support others in the same position. In this way, we work to give victims control over their own case, to overcome their powerlessness against the police and the criminal justice system.

HCDA is a political organisation in this respect, but we are non-party political.
There are three main ways that HCDA supports its members:

We take up the cases of people who have suffered at the hands of the police. We advise people about the different courses of action open to them; and we help them to prepare their case and deal with their lawyers.

Many of our members have been traumatised by their experience of police injustice. HCDA gives support to victims, based on our collective experiences of having suffered at the hands of the police.

We counter police abuse of their powers by raising the issue of police malpractice and violence in public, campaigning for legal reforms and building an independent community organisation which can challenge the power of the police.

1992 has proved to be a turning point for us. Four years of hard work have started to payoff. As a very small independent self help group, we have nevertheless made an important contribution to the debate on policing.

We have responded to our higher profile by holding discussions about how we can increase the involvement of the community in HCDA.

We have set up sub groups dealing with particular aspects of our activities (eg publicity), and launched a membership and affiliation scheme. We hope that everyone who believes in the need for an organisation like HCDA will take advantage of this opportunity to support our work in any way they can.

Membership is divided into three categories:

FULL MEMBERSHIP is open to everyone who supports HCDA’s aims and objectives; pays their membership fees and regularly attends meetings.

ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP is open to everyone who supports HCDA’s aims and objectives and pays their membership fees.

AFFILIATE MEMBERSHIP is open to organisations; solicitors firms; barristers chambers; trade union branches; etc.

All members receive copies of our bulletin ‘Community Defence’. Annual membership fees are as follows:

INDIVIDUALS £5 waged; £2(or less) low/unwaged

ORGANISATIONS £25 local; more for larger groups.

Join HCDA Today!

Community Defence, Summer 1991

Building Community Resistance

The summer of ’91 started with journalists commenting on the tenth anniversary of the ’81 riots. The Meteorological Office predicted a long hot summer, and political pundits predicted more of the same. However, the most important indications of police community relations are how the police behave on the ground.

The policing of Hackney over the summer months has been heavy. The police have reverted to the “fire brigade” style of policing which was widely condemned in the early eighties. Some incidents have hit the headlines, like the July 4th raid on the Pembury Estate, which involved 85 officers who made 13 arrests. Other incidents have passed by virtually unnoticed. In the four months, April — July 1991, 38 cases were reported to HCDA, arising out of 14 separate incidents. In nine of these incidents, 10 police officers or more were involved in making arrests. Needless to say, the Territorial Support Group (TSG/riot police) have played their usual central part in policing the borough. The police claim that the reason for such heavy handedness is that officers are getting injured and have to operate in large numbers for their own safety. But, this does not justify the attendance of over 30 officers to make one arrest. Instead of sending in the shock troops every time a call goes out for assistance, perhaps the police can put their heads together to think out a strategy for dealing with crime in Hackney.

Police harassment – and intimidation are making many People angry, and it is only a matter of time before serious disorder breaks out. However, it is crucial that there is a measured response from within the community. Off the cuff remarks by community representatives, such as Lloyd King’s comment that the Pembury raid was the police’s revenge for the shooting of PC Laurence Brown, do not get us anywhere. They only provide the police with ammunition to cover up their actions.

When the police attack our community, they single out particular individuals for arrest. This serves to divide the community. It isolates the people who have been arrested, and those who have not been arrested are relieved that they have not been picked on. The first line of defence following a police attack has to be to support those people who have been unjustly treated. That means making sure that people get good legal advice and do not go into the first solicitor’s office they see in the High Street. The next step is to ensure that people who see the incident come forward to act as witnesses. This can be easier said than done. Witnesses have to be traced as soon as practically possible. A week later may be too late, they will have forgotten much of what happened and might feel reluctant to come forward because of fear of police recriminations. By calling on witnesses to come forward in support of defendants we are achieving much more than just supporting a person’s legal defence. We make individual arrests into community issues which unite rather than divide our community.

By taking up individual cases of police injustice in a practical way, we are also able to build up a general picture of policing. HCDA is able to assert that fire brigade policing is the norm in Hackney on the basis of several hundred reported cases in the past two years. On numerous occasions in the past we have called for a public inquiry into policing, to no avail. If there is not going to be an official public inquiry, then the community has to get its act together to compile its own reports into policing. This can easily be done by talking to people about their experiences and documenting all the evidence.

If our community is unable to defend one person who has been unjustly treated by the police, how can we expect to defend ourselves in a serious confrontation? Building community resistance takes place everyday in response to all incidents of police harassment, no matter how minor. Riots, on the other hand, erupt as a spontaneous response to extreme police provocation. They are a last resort. Disorganised rioting enables the police to suppress all resistance and create distrust within the community. Sandwiched in between is a night or two of euphoria for a community which gives the police as good as it gets. HCDA intends to work to avoid the above situation developing. If rioting does break out, it is our duty to ensure that our community stands together and defends itself.

City Road police out of control

All is not well at City Road police station, even by the poor standards of the Metropolitan Police. Much publicity has focused on the station in the past year. On August 28th 1990, PC Laurence Brown was killed. A few months later, in December, seven officers were sacked for beating up Gary Stretch in 1987. HCDA believes that there is a management crisis at the station.

The death of a colleague is a bitter blow in any workplace, especially if that person is killed at work. For police officers, with their strong collective identity, death is even harder to accept. But, they are in a position to do something about it, they can take their grief out on the community they police.

The seven police officers who beat up Gary Stretch in November 1987 were suspended from duty for three years. They did not expect to be found guilty of discreditable conduct at an internal disciplinary tribunal in October 1990. It is likely that their colleagues shared their optimism. During the disciplinary hearing the seven men received a great deal of support from their colleagues. The Police Federation hired QCs to represent them. They attended the tribunal in a police carrier which was at their disposal for every day of the hearing; a valuable police resource taken out of normal policing duties for several weeks. Chief Superintendent Nial Mulvihill, then in charge of City Road, spoke out in favour of the men. He must have known that the seriousness of the case meant that the officers were likely to be sacked. But, in order to retain the respect of the ranks he had to support them, even if in doing so it did nothing to improve his own standing in the police. Then the bombshell. On October 30th they were found guilty and recommended for dismissal. They were officially sacked on December 7th, and all seven are now appealing against the decision.

The power of police constables is invested in their authority to make arrests. They can also use their own discretion when making an arrest. They can, more or less, pick and choose who to arrest and who not to arrest.

Given the individual powers of constables, their collective strength is immense. In effect, police management can only operate with junior officers consenting to accept the orders of their superiors. If something happens which causes the management structure to break down, where the ranks feel they are not getting the support of their superiors, senior officers have to tread very carefully in order to get their co—operation.

HCDA believes that such a break down has taken place at City Road. Within months of an officer being shot dead on duty, seven colleagues were sacked for beating up somebody. Furthermore, in the eyes of City Road police, the decision to sack the men was made by people who do not know anything about policing the streets, and came about as a result of political pressure. Coming so soon after the shooting of Laurence Brown, it was just like rubbing salt into the wound.

As a result, City Road officers are asserting their collective will against senior officers by going out on the streets and doing as they please. They are doing this safe in the knowledge that their superiors do not want a confrontation with all the officers at the station.

HCDA’s evidence for the crisis lies in the number of reported incidents involving City Road officers in 1991. City Road police were involved, alongside the TSG, in the 19 arrests at Chats Palace on March 22nd. City Road Serious Crimes Squad conducted the raid on the Pembury Estate, with the TSG acting as back up, on July 4th. City Road police, again with TSG officers, decended on Hoxton when Jimmy Jennings tragically died on July 21st.

In addition, HCDA has received many reports of intimidation and harassment by City Road officers. In May, about 15 City Road police officers raided a house in Dalston for firearms. The front door was sledgehammered in, despite the fact that the occupants were just about to open it, floorboards were ripped up and a partitioning wall smashed. Some of the officers were carrying spiked truncheons. No firearms were found in the house and the five occupants were keen to find out why they were raided. When they went to City Road station to get a copy of the search record, which is their right, they were told that no record had been made. To date, they have not received a copy of the search record.

A man, who was cabbing in the City Road area, was stopped by police three times in one week, before deciding to give up his job because of the harassment. A black youth who was arrested by City Road officers, and held in custody for several hours before being released without charge, has given up his college course as a result of his bad experience. This list does not include the many people HCDA has spoken to concerning regular stop and searches on the streets. Some people have said they have been stopped on an average of once a week over a six month period.

The Metropolitan Police have repeatedly claimed that they are overcoming their bad reputation in the community. The Gary Stretch case was held up as an example of how they are ridding themselves of the “rotten apples”. HCDA asserts otherwise. Unless the powers of the police are restricted by law, and our community has real control over individual police officers actions, they will continue to abuse their powers.

Area Two T.S.G.

Area Two Territorial Support Group is based at Bow Road police station. They drive around in reinforced Sherpa carriers and can be identified by the flat caps and three quarter length protective jackets they wear, and an E prefix to their lapel numbers (if they are wearing them). They were set up London-wide in January 1987 to replace the discredited Special Patrol Group.

The SPG were set up by the Met as specially trained riot police in 1965. Very quickly they gained notoriety for their viciousness. Following the death of Blair Peach at the hands of the SPG in Southall, demands for their disbandment grew. Rather than abolish the SPG, the Met reorganised and renamed its riot police as Territorial Support Groups. TSGs commenced operating in London on January 12th 1987.

Until September 1985 the Metropolitan Police were organised on a district basis. There were 24 districts and Hackney borough was G District. In 1985 they reorganised into eight areas, and the areas were subdivided into divisions, 75 in total. Hackney consists of two divisions – Hackney, which also covers City Road (denoted by the letters GH), and Stoke Newington (denoted by the letters GN). Hackney is in Area Two, which also covers Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, and Havering.

Before reorganisation, the SPG consisted of 280 officers organised into eight units with a Scotland yard commander in overall charge. They operated independently of the district structure. In addition, District Support Units operated in similar fashion to the SPG, but under the control of district commanders. In total there were about 1,100 police deployed in DSUs. The formation of the TSGs combined SPG and DSU units into area based forces.

Each area now has 118 TSG officers who serve for a maximum of four years. Instead of disbanding the SPG, the Met, asserted in the 1986 Annual Report – “their expertise and professionalism will form the basis of the Territorial Support Groups,” As well as their riot control responsibilities, the TSG also patrol the streets in a supporting role in the divlsons. At present the TSG are on a six week tour of duty in Stoke Newington, ostensibly to deal with street crime.

On four occasions so far this year, the TSG have been involved in serious confrontations in Hackney. On January 3rd, TSG officers attacked a peaceful picket of Turkish and Kurdish strikers outside Stoke Newington police station. 65 people were arrested and many were beaten up. There can be no doubt that this was a revenge attack for an incident in February 1990 when Turkish and Kurdish strikers were involved in a fight with the TSG (see Winter 1990/91 edition of “Community Defence”).

On March 22nd, TSG officers were involved in the arrests of 19 people who had attended an anti-poll tax benefit at Chats Palace (see Spring 1990 edition of “Community Defence”). Similarly, it is reasonable to assume that this was a revenge attack for the March 8th anti-poll tax demonstration at Hackney Town Hall, where it was the TSG who baton charged the demonstration.

On July 4th, TSG, including Area One TSG, took part in the police raid on the Pembury Estate which resulted in 13 arrests, mainly for public order offences.

On July 21st, over 100 officers, including the TSG, descended on Hoxton after one man, Jimmy Jennings, escaped from police custody. The TSG donned their NATO riot gear – helmets, overalls, body pads and shields. There was nowhere for Jimmy Jennings to go, and tragically he fell from a seventh floor window. He died later in hospital. Numerous other incidents have been reported to HCDA involving TSG officers while out on patrol.

The facts speak for themselves. TSG officers have an image of themselves as an elite force, and they behave as if answerable to nobody but themselves. There is a certain inevitability that wherever they go, trouble is sure to follow.

Sponsored cycle ride

On Sunday September 22nd, members of HCDA will be cycling from London to Brighton to raise funds for the organisation.

HCDA is an entirely voluntary organisation which consists of people who have themselves been subjected to police injustice. Over the past three years it has built up a wealth of experience in dealing with cases of injustice which puts peoples own needs first, and applies a high degree of professionalism to its campaigning work.

At a time when many other groups and institutions, which spoke out for police accountability in the eighties, have either been cut or have turned their backs on the issue of police oppression, HCDA has stood its ground. HCDA is unable to continue its work without funds. We are not seeking to pay volunteers for their time. We need to raise money to buy a laptop computer and a video camera. Given our increasing case load and our monitoring of protests in Hackney, these items of equipment have become essential.

If you would like to sponsor our cycle ride, please send for sponsorship forms to HCDA, Family Centre, 50 Rectory Road, London, N16 7QY, or phone 071-249 0193 and leave a message on the answerphone.

Democracy dismissed

Chief Superintendent Bernard Taffs commenting on “Community Defence” in the Evening Standard; 22.7.91.

So, these are Hackney police chief’s views on democracy. Does he really believe that the police have a monopoly on talking to councillors?


“I need a lawyer,” might be the first thought that comes into your head if you are arrested. But, a bad solicitor is worse than useless. It is not unknown for a solicitor to advise a client to plead guilty to a crime they did not commit. Remember, your solicitor is paid by you, or on your behalf, whether you are acquitted or convicted. No one knows your case better than you, and it is your right to instruct your solicitor. Here are some points to remember when choosing and using solicitors. If you need advice, or wish to talk to people in a similar position to yourself, contact HCDA.

If you are arrested you have the right to consult a solicitor of your choice free of charge, and to have him/her present at interviews and identification parades.

If your own solicitor is unavailable, ask to use the 24 our duty solicitor.

If you have been arrested for a serious arrestable offence you can be denied access to a solicitor for up to 36 hours. This can only oe authorised by an officer of the rank of Superintendent or above. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act you can be denied access to a solicitor for seven days.

If you arrive at court unrepresented, ask to see the duty solicitor, who can advise you and apply for legal aid and bail on your behalf. This is free.

If you need legal advice but are not in custody and have not been charged (eg. if you have been bailed to return to a police station), you can obtain advice under the Green Form Scheme. Ask about this when you call to make an appointment with the solicitor. This scheme entitles you to free advice if you are on income support, or a very low income and have savings of less than approximately £1,000.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence apply for legal aid as soon as possible as it cannot be backdated. Your entitlement to legal aid depends on your disposable income which is the amount left from your total income after expenses such as rent/mortgage, tax, maintenance, etc. If you are left with more than £52 per week, you pay contributions to your legal costs which start at £1 per week. Legal Aid is granted by the court at which you first appear. Forms can be obtained from your solicitor, the Legal Aid office at court or the probation officer if you are held on remand.

Never choose a solicitor simply because they are based nearby — ask around. Many solicitors are on good terms with the police, who provide most of their work. A good solicitor does not talk to the police. Different solicitors specialise in different aspects of tne law. Make sure you get one who is appropriate to your case.

Make sure your solicitor:

  • Takes detailed statements from you and your witnesses.
  • Obtains copies of the statements of prosecution witnesses and other evidence against you.
  • Asks you which barrister you would like to present your case in court. It is your right to choose your own barrister.
  • Arranges a meeting between you and your barrister, and makes sure that your barrister will be available on the day you are in court.
  • Solicitors rarely conduct witness searches, and it may be difficult for you to do it yourself. If in doubt, contact HCDA.
  • If your solicitor advises you to plead guilty, remember, you are not obliged to take their advice. A good general rule is never to plead guilty until the last possible moment.
  • If your solicitor blinds you with legal jargon, make them explain themselves.
  • If you have made a complaint against the police, do not speak to the police yourself concerning the complaint, always refer them to your solicitor. (HCDA advises against making a complaint because the police investigate the complaint themselves, it is much better to take out a civil action against the police for damages.) If your solicitor insists that you talk to the police regarding your complaint, change your solicitor.

If you are unhappy with your solicitor you can: –

  • Change your solicitor. This is done by writing a letter to your solicitor explaining that you no longer wish them to represent you. Write to the Legal Aid office. Request that they transfer legal aid to your new choice of solicitor and give reasons for your decision to change. And write to the solicitor you hope to represent you in the future to ask them to take on your case.
  • You can represent yourself and present your own case in court. If you are not entitled to legal aid you may have to do this anyway. Do not be overawed by the situation. You are entitled to appear in court with a legal advisor who can help you with your case. This person is known as a “McKenzie’s Friend”. If you need support, contact HCDA.