Lambeth’s community police watchdog, set up in the wake of the 1981 riots in Brixton, is to be scrapped as part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to reform police accountability in London.
Lambeth Community Police Consultative Group (CPCG) will be replaced by Safer Neighbourhoods Board, in changes the Mayor claims will give “local Londoners and victims” a greater voice.
The plans have been attacked for “ending the principle of policing by consent”, and for reducing the accountability and transparency of the Met’s operations in Brixton and the rest of the borough.
Writing in The Brixton Bugle this week Lee Jasper, former chair and current vice chair of CPCG, said: “For thirty years the Lambeth CPCG has held monthly public meetings, holding the Met to account.
“I have witnessed first-hand their cutting edge work on tackling domestic violence, rape, establishing independent custody visitors, highlighting the issue of mental health and deaths in police custody and the creation of London’s first stop and search monitoring group.
“In the context of a growing crisis of confidence, the Mayor’s proposals spell disaster for Lambeth.”
A CPCG report into the changes says Safer Neighbourhood Boards will be less accessible to the public, as their membership must be approved by the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council.
It also says the two organisations set up to monitor police powers in Lambeth – the Independent Custody Visitors and the Stop and Search Monitoring Group – will be excluded from membership, and its scope will be limited to the Mayor’s priorities on policing.
The CPCG in Lambeth was set up after the Scarman Report into the 1981 riots found that a breakdown in communication between the police and the community was an important contributory factor to the outbreak of violence.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Lee Jasper has launched a petition against the plans, and the CPCG is running an online survey on the changes. There will be an open public meeting at 6.30pm at Lambeth Town Hall, June 3.
Is Lee Jasper’s real concern about the potential loss of an avenue for self-publicity?
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