Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, the senior officer who planned the bungled ‘anti-terror’ raid in Forest Gate, has refused to come to Newham and address a public forum where all local concerns, not just those of selected individuals, can be raised.
Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) wrote to Hayman on 19 June expressing its concern that “the Metropolitan Police’s strategy of speaking only to councillors and selected ‘community leaders’, important those this is, has excluded those most affected by the raid – local people”. Since the raids in Lansdown Rd on 2 June, promises from the police to write to residents have been broken, whilst anyone who raises concerns about the raids with local officers are unlikely to receive anything approaching an informed response.
On 13 June at a meeting of the Green Street Community Forum, Superintendent Phil Morgan from Forest Gate Police spoke to local people, expressed his wish for 'dialogue' with local communities but acknowledged that he was unable to provide any information that was not already available in the press. In its letter, NMP therefore argued that local police commanders like Superintendent Morgan had effectively been placed in an impossible position, claiming they wanted to kick-start a dialogue that by its very nature is a two-way process, but having no means of responding to questions about an operation planned and carried out centrally by Scotland Yard. Therefore, NMP said “we believe that if the Metropolitan Police Service is serious about a dialogue with local communities, then it is vital that someone with the information to properly answer local people’s questions, someone of your seniority, takes the first step.”
Hayman has responded by defending the Met’s tactics of meeting only those who have been carefully chosen not to ask too many difficult questions. He claimed “senior officers have visited Newham on a number of occasions to meet community groups” without saying whom they have spoken to and that “we have canvassed a wide selection of the community through a variety of methods,” without elaborating what these ‘methods’ are. He has also rejected the idea of attending a public forum with the bland statement that “action already in progress will provide a suitable vehicle for local officers to maintain an informative dialogue with their local community.”
It is clear the Metropolitan Police intend to arrogantly brush aside legitimate concerns about their actions on 2 June. Their refusal to make a meaningful apology to the two families whose lives were turned upside down by heavy-handed police tactics is matched by a cavalier attitude to local accountability. However, a network of community groups and members of local mosques are circulating a community letter demanding that Hayman faces questioning by Newham residents and signatures are currently being sought.
To add your organisation’s name to this letter, download the text (link below) and then e-mail Newham Monitoring Project at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your support for its content.
Download the Community Letter to Andy Hayman