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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Camden police assault

September 26 2009
Winter shelter takes legal advice and appeals to IPCC Coordinators at one of the London borough of Camden's winter shelters are appealing to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after an alleged assault on one of their residents by police officers. Staff at C4WS (Camden and City Churches Cold Weather Shelter) claim one of their younger residents was assaulted and racially abused by police officers during a routine 'stop and search' procedure in February 2008. The shelter also alleges the assault was witnessed by two other residents of their Buck Street hostel, one of whom was pushed to the ground by the officers, despite being more than 60 years old. It is also claimed that a bystander unconnected to the hostel videoed the incident on his camera phone, only to have the footage deleted by the officers. After the younger victim was taken away by the police, hostel managers made a complaint to the area duty inspector, whom they described as being "unhelpful, defensive and intimidating" when they reported the assault. After contacting Scotland Yard's Incident Room with the complaint, Tony Allen, one of Buck Street's voluntary co-ordinators, was told the incident was an "operational police matter" and would be dealt with in due course. Mr Allen received no response until May of this year - 15 months after the original complaint was logged. The police enquiry into the incident found no evidence of wrongdoing by their officers, and said that it should be treated as "a learning experience" for the officers involved. "I was told that there wasn't enough proof in my original statement", Mr Allen told The Pavement. "As there was conflicting evidence between witnesses and the police officers, they said they couldn't proceed with the complaint." Two of the witnesses, including the elderly man who was pushed to the ground, did not have statements taken on the night of the alleged incident, and hostel coordinators have subsequently been unable to contact them. Mr Allen has now lodged an appeal with the IPCC, but was told his complaint could take up to 12 weeks to be reviewed, as the organisation has a backlog of cases to deal with. As well as the alleged assault, Mr Allen is claiming that police used excessive force in their handling of the incident, including the destruction of evidence on a witness's camera phone. Despite the long delays to the appeal process he has already experienced, Mr Allen is seeking legal advice in order to proceed with his complaint. The Pavement will monitor his progress and report on the appeal outcome.