London’s Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has announced his intention to install CCTV cameras in all police cars and vans.
This has been a demand of the families of those who have died in police custody for many years.
Hogan-Howe told the LBC radio station, “If we misbehave it will capture it, but, equally, for the people who misbehave or make false allegations, it will capture it.”
But he added, “We have got to have a conversation with our staff because they may feel threatened by that.”
A number of custody deaths are believed to have taken place in police vehicles. And campaigners believe the cameras will help provide evidence in future cases.
One such death was Sean Rigg at Brixton police station in 2008. There are many unanswered questions about Sean’s final moments as he was transported to the station in a police van.
Marcia Rigg, Sean’s sister and part of the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), told Socialist Worker that she was “delighted”.
“This is one of the demands UFFC has made for many years, so we welcome this,” she said.
“But the question is, when will it happen? We have to make sure he keeps to his word.”
Hogan-Howe has promised to meet UFFC representatives next week. Marcia says she hopes to raise the issue of CCTV cameras with him then.
The announcement comes after a series of recent allegations of racism against police officers. Hogan-Howe has promised that investigations into the allegations will be completed “within the next four weeks”.
Hundreds of people have died in police custody over the past ten years. But no officer has been convicted of murder or manslaughter in this time.
Hogan-Howe also claimed that the Met police receive on average ten complaints a day. This includes an average of one complaint relating to racism. “So we don’t do badly when it comes to delivering service,” he added.
But one complaint of racism a day is still one complaint too many. And it ignores the fact that many who suffer racist abuse from police do not report it as action is rarely taken.
The commissioner’s latest comments show that they are desperate to show themselves as accountable and anti-racist.
But this alone will not stop racism in the force. The campaign for justice must continue.
Sign the UFFC petition against deaths in custody at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/26276