Lambeth Councillor calls for replacement of police watchdog following Sean Rigg inquiry

Suprintendent Dave McLaren, BMH director Matilda MacAttram and Marcia Rigg at the meeting at the Brix, Brixton Hill this week.jpg

By Juliana Lucas

A Lambeth councillor has called for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to be replaced with a new investigative body.

Cllr Ed Davie said the police watchdog had lost the confidence of the public following high profile deaths of Sean Rigg and Olaseni Lewis, who both died after being restrained by officers.

Cllr Davie, who sits as chair of Lambeth’s Health and Adult Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee, was speaking to Brixton Blog at a meeting at the Brix, Brixton Hill organised by Black Mental Health (BMH) UK  on Tuesday.

Ed Davie

Rigg, diagnosed with schizophrenia, died on August 21, 2008, after being detained by police.

He slipped into a state of semi-consciousness after being unsuitably restrained and was dumped into a police van.

Instead of being taken to hospital for medical treatment, the 40-year-old was taken to Brixton police station where he suffered a cardiac arrest.

His family have argued that the IPCC failed to bring the police to account over his death.

“I think this case demonstrates that the IPCC is not working effectively in holding the police to account. It also shows that they do not have the confidence of the community in doing this job.” Davie told Brixton Blog.

He said “It needs to be replaced with a properly independent body, robust enough in holding the confidence of this community”

The meeting, chaired by Matilda MacAttram, the director of BMH UK is the first of three proposed to take place in the coming weeks is set to provide solution in the way black people with mental health problems are treated by the police

Sean Rigg

Next week (Oct 23), BMH will be providing oral evidence to the Home Affairs select committee and will be joining the United Friends and Families in their annual march against death in custody on Oct 27.

The 36-year-old, who also represents Thornton ward, added:  “In somewhere like Lambeth we have a Black Minority Ethnic (BME) population of about a third and the very least I would see any new body that is responsible for policing the police to have a similar proportion of BME people at the highest levels.

“That in itself does not ensure that it is a robust organisation but it does begin to address some of those concerns those who police the police are not representative of the cross section of the community that is being policed.”

Last week Lambeth became the first London borough to trial CCTV cameras in the back of police vans. Currently installed in four vehicles, officers hope to spread the trial to all transporters by spring next year.

Juliana Lucas writes for the Voice. Follow her on Twitter @denilucsVNEWS.