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  • Police deny Banaz Mahmood enquiry


    by Sunny
    10th December, 2008 at 5:46 pm    

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has issued this today, in effect blaming the police for not cooperating in their inquiry on why some police constables failed to adequately help Banaz Mahmood. Outrageous.

    * * * * * *

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission has expressed its deep disappointment that a disciplinary hearing relating to the actions of two Metropolitan Police officers when dealing with Banaz Mahmod could not proceed.

    The two officers – a police constable and an inspector – were scheduled to face the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) hearing as a result of allegations against them relating to how they dealt with Ms Mahmod on 31 December 2005 being substantiated in an IPCC investigation.

    Ms Mahmod disappeared from her South London home in January 2006 and her body was found in the West Midlands three months later. Ms Mahmod’s father and uncle were convicted of murder in June 2007 following a trial at the Old Bailey.

    The IPCC independently investigated how the MPS and West Midlands Police had dealt with Ms Mahmod on five separate occasions between September 2005 and January 2006.

    In March 2008 the IPCC announced that four MPS and two West Midlands detectives would receive written warnings and one MPS constable words of advice in relation to how Ms Mahmod’s allegation of historical sexual abuse had been investigated

    It was also announced that the two MPS officers would face a disciplinary hearing in relation to an incident on 31 December 2005. During that incident Ms Mahmod ran into a café in Hartfield Road, Wimbledon alleging that people were trying to kill her and claiming that she had broken a window to escape. She was distressed, appeared drunk and had cuts to her hands. However the officers who attended focussed on the window Ms Mahmod had broken and did not investigate the alleged threats to kill. [my emphasis - WTF??!]

    The MPS’s disciplinary hearing was scheduled for 17 November 2008, but the key witness against the officers decided that he was no longer willing to participate. The MPS advised the IPCC on Thursday 13 November that they believed this decision left the hearing with insufficient evidence to prove the case against the officers. As a result they wished to exercise their prerogative under the Police Reform Act to withdraw the case.

    IPCC investigators spoke with the witness and, as he reiterated his intention not to participate, the IPCC agreed that the hearing could not proceed on the scheduled date and there was no prospect of the hearing proceeding in the future.

    The MPS has advised the IPCC that the officers will receive words of advice in relation to their actions.

    IPCC Commissioner Ms Naseem Malik said: “Our independent investigation identified what we believed were serious failures by these officers which we and the MPS believed warranted a full disciplinary hearing. Such a hearing would have a full range of disciplinary options which would not be available in any other way.

    “It is therefore deeply disappointing that the discipline process cannot be fully completed. I fully appreciate and understand the decision of the key witness not to participate and there should be no blame placed on him for this matter not reaching a disciplinary conclusion. This remains a highly sensitive issue and people are still in protective witness programmes due to the real risk surrounding this specific matter.

    Ms Malik added: “The IPCC does have the power to direct a police force to hold a disciplinary hearing when they indicate they don’t intend to. Other witnesses had already indicated they were no longer willing to participate in the hearing, but while the key witness remained there was still a strong case to answer. However, once it became apparent this key witness would not participate in the hearing, I reluctantly had to agree that it would be impossible for the disciplinary panel to reach a fair and balanced judgement.

    “Our investigation team conducted a thorough investigation. They also put in a lot of hard work, and in some instances went beyond the call of duty, to try to bring this case to a disciplinary conclusion. I am proud of the work they did. The failure of this process is outside the hands of the IPCC and the MPS. It is very disappointing and I fully understand the concern this outcome may cause.

    “One must remember that at the heart of this matter is the brutal murder of a young woman at the hands of people who were supposed to love and protect her. Ms Mahmod’s murder was termed an ‘honour killing’; however I cannot imagine how anyone can derive honour from committing such a heinous crime.

    “The tragedy is compounded by the fact that our investigation identified that opportunities may have been missed to prevent the tragedy and the opportunity to reach a disciplinary outcome has been lost. It is clear that the police response was at best mixed. In relation to three of the incidents we investigated we found the police force involved – the Metropolitan Police Service – had dealt with matters appropriately and sensitively. However, in relation to two incidents we have found that Banaz Mahmod was let down badly by the service she received.

    “It is important now that, instead of focussing on individual blame, the recommendations from the IPCC’s investigation, particularly around developing cogent strategies to deal with domestic and so-called honour-based violence, are taken on board by the police service as a whole to ensure such situations do not happen again.”

    An Executive Summary giving details of the findings of the IPCC’s investigation is available for download at http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/index/resources/evidence_reports/investigation_reports.htm

    * * * * * * *


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    Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Race politics,Religion






    9 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. Shamit — on 10th December, 2008 at 6:29 pm  

      This is a fucking outrage - completely agree with your sentiments.

    2. Ashik — on 10th December, 2008 at 7:46 pm  

      Although Banaz informed police her family were out to kill her, as I understand it she declined the police offer of a place at a refuge, believing no harm would come to her while at home with her mother. I really don’t see what else the policemen could have done to help her. I have no doubt they had multiple other matters to consider at any given time and are in any case weighed down by tonnes of paperwork.

      As a matter of interest, do policemen now receive cultural awareness training regarding honour-based crimes? Rule one lads, don’t mention that a girl has complained against parents. It tends to exacerbate matters eg. in the Yones case officials actually asked her parents if she was having boyfreind trouble! doh!

    3. persephone — on 10th December, 2008 at 11:48 pm  

      I am shocked that the police did not do more. At the very least caution or put an injunction etc on the people she was saying had threatened & abused her.

      This should have happened even if she had refused to relocate to a refuge & the latter is understandable in that she was obviously traumatised by the death threats & sexual abuse - these would have left her too traumatised to make rational decisions. Plus being so abused in your own home would hardly leave you to have faith in being safe in a strange place, albeit a refuge.

    4. persephone — on 11th December, 2008 at 12:08 am  

      “Rule one lads, don’t mention that a girl has complained against parents. It tends to exacerbate matters”

      When it gets to the point of an asian girl having to report her family then matters must already be VERY ‘exacerbated’ & not forcibly tackling the perpetrators won’t mean the girl is safe. As in this sad case.

      If any cultural training is to be done it is that when it does get to the point where the girls resorts to reporting her family to the police that they know that things have reached a very dangerous level & that they should come down like a ton of bricks on these criminals.

      This crime should be shouted out about & not hidden as it thrives on secrecy. Let them be publicly shamed because that is what they fear most - in fact so much that it overides any humanity to their own children.

    5. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2008 at 1:01 am  

      Ashik,

      I am getting very, very confused over recent deaths.

      In the Baby P case there has been news to the effect that Social Workers did not act on the advice of the Police. The cops thought the child was at risk and should be taken into care. The Social Services did not.

      It seems to me that the Police in this case of Banaz Mahmood did not even consider a referral in the opposite direction - from the Police to the Social Services.

      On the back of the De Menezes murder, you have to wonder what the hells going on. The coroner apparently determined that a verdict of unlawful killing was inadmissable from the jury? Presumeably he has the right, but I doubt very much that he is right. This may well be yet another case of juries being wrongly directed by judges. Or coroners in this case.

      I think there should be several outcomes from these trials.

      Firstly, serious Police disciplinary matters should have the ultimate sanction of being heard by the IPCC when a Police Force is unwilling to abide by due process.

      Or, perhaps better still, by the courts themselves, as the cases involve loss of life, or damage to our civil society. Perhaps in cases like this the IPCC could advise the CPS that justice has not been seen to be done by internal methods? And make their case directly to the CPS? This might require a whole new branch of law, that deals with ultra vires police actions. Personally, I would never carry a table leg in London.

      This is hopefully not a game where the police hold the whip hand. Otherwise there is more already lost than I’d care to contemplate.

      Secondly, it seems obvious that the Police and Social Services are unable to organise a piss up in a brewery between them. They both need their heads cracked together.

      Just to say, I agree with Shamit, this is a fucking outrage.

      No?

    6. Rumbold — on 11th December, 2008 at 10:30 am  

      Thanks for this Sunny.

      Ashik:

      “As a matter of interest, do policemen now receive cultural awareness training regarding honour-based crimes?”

      I believe that awareness is growing, but I don’t know is there is any secific traing just yet. I heard plans that a specialist officer (i.e. one who had appropriate training) would be attached to each police station.

      Excellent points Douglas.

    7. Sunny — on 11th December, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

      yup, excellent points douglas.

    8. Sam Ambreen — on 12th December, 2008 at 11:57 pm  

      CAADA (Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse) have a system in place so that high risk cases (those with more than three police call-outs in the space of a year and/or scoring more than ten on the police risk assessment) are referred to a MARAC (multi-agency risk assessment conference). To my knowledge it is the responsibility of the police to facilitate these meetings and indeed, to bring these cases to the attention of appropriate domestic abuse/statutory agencies (advocacy/social services/housing). They clearly failed to do this.

    9. Sam Ambreen — on 13th December, 2008 at 12:04 am  

      As for cultural training, it’s like banging your head against a brick wall and a bit of a postcode lottery. I’m always amazed at the attitudes towards honour based crimes and the ignorant responses I’ve had from officers. At the very best, some are just too afraid they might offend people by asking the wrong questions. At the other end, you have officers taking the perpetrators word over cultural practices, those who shout loudest and all that. It’s too much like hard work to get involved.

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