In the Media

Families plan legal action against parks constabulary

PUBLISHED June 5, 2006

THE families of two boys who claim they were falsely held by Newham Parks Constabulary officers outside the borough are planning to sue.

Solicitors H K H Kenwright and Cox have confirmed they are representing the families of Kwaljit Singh, 17, and Sahmi Mohammed, 14, who say they were unlawfully detained in Aldersbrook Road in Wanstead on April 14.

An application for legal aid has been made with a view to taking action against Newham Council and the officers involved for alleged false imprisonment and assault.

The legal action could do further damage to the reputation of the constabulary, which was branded a badly trained and poorly managed second-tier police force by an independent inquiry last year.

An investigation by solicitor Amanda Kelly found the service riddled with unproven allegations of abuses of power, corruption, racism and bullying.

Despite having powers of arrest inside parks, the constabulary have the same authority as members of the public on the streets and are not authorised to patrol outside Newham.

Speaking to the Guardian following the incident, Kwaljit, of Campbell Road, East Ham, said he was attempting to cross the road when a van carrying up to six officers got in his way.

He admits that he shouted at the van, which then stopped and reversed. He says he then panicked and fled, but was pursued by constables who caught up with him.

He was joined by his friend Sahmi, of Whitear Walk, Stratford, and the two claim they were ordered into the back of the van and questioned.

According to an official record of the incident seen by the Guardian, the constables phoned the Metropolice Police to check Sahmi's status as a wearer of an electronic tag. They were refused information.

Kwaljit said: "I did shout at the van and panicked a bit, but they were intimidating and calling me names. I knew straight away who they were because they often stop me and my friends, but they did not identify themselves and tell me what my rights were."

The record of the incident seen by the Guardian described the incident as taking place "out of borough" and involving anti-social behaviour listed as "shouting/swearing".

Solicitor Simon Smith said: "From what our clients have told us, they were illegally apprehended, with one having his arm placed behind his back, and put in the back of a van, which is kidnap.

"The council employs these people and under these circumstances, it is liable for its actions.

"There is a long history of problems with parks constables patrolling the streets in other parts of London. They should know what they can and cannot do."

The council, which is currently investigating the incident, declined to comment.