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11 March 2014, 11:49
Chief Constable at Bedfordshire Police writes open letter to residents following alleged attack by offices on autistic man in Luton.
The Chief Constable at Bedfordshire Police has written an open letter to residents talking of her 'sadness' regarding an alleged attack by officers on a severely autistic man.
It's claimed Faruk Ali from Luton was dragged by two police officers and punched on February 20th 2014.
Colette Paul says she's arranged for another force out of the area in Leicestershire to investigate what happened, to ensure transparency.
It is with sadness that I am writing to you about an incident where allegations of assault have been made against two police officers in relation to their actions in Whitby Road, Luton on the 20th February. I am very sorry that this incident has caused considerable distress to Faruk Ali, his family and the wider community. I am taking this opportunity to write directly to you, the community of Luton, to reassure you of the steps being undertaken to complete a thorough response and investigation into these allegations.
Mr Ali and his family are currently feeling anger and distress, and called a public meeting to express their concerns. I have expressed my sincere apologies for the distress Mr Ali and his family are feeling, and have offered to meet with them personally to discuss their concerns. Regretfully they are dissatisfied with Bedfordshire Police’s response to this situation at this time; however we will continue to work hard to regain their trust.
I am aware that there are a number of questions which both Mr Ali’s family, and you as a wider community have, and I want to address them. I want to ensure this investigation is transparent and fully understood.
Immediately this incident was reported, the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Professional Standards Department gathered all of the immediate evidence from the Police Officers concerned and from some witnesses. We also immediately informed the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The officers were placed on restricted duties so that they were not working in the Luton area. This was to ensure that they did not have any contact with Faruk, his family or the wider Luton community. As promised by Assistant Chief Constable Trippett at the public meeting this decision has been regularly reviewed. As a result of concerns raised by the family, and the wider community, and in light of new information received; yesterday I had this decision reviewed by the appropriate officer Cambridgeshire Deputy Chief Constable Alec Wood. Without judging the outcome of this investigation, this restriction has now been changed, and the officers involved are no longer to have any direct contact with the public whilst this investigation is taking place.
Initially the investigation was being undertaken by the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire Professional Standards Department whilst being supervised throughout by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. However, in direct response to family and community concerns I have referred it to the IPCC and I have arranged for the investigation to be undertaken by Leicestershire Constabulary, to ensure a transparent investigation by a team unconnected to Bedfordshire Police. I hope this provides you with reassurance that the investigation will be as thorough and impartial as it possibly can be.
I have also decided that this case is so important that Chief Superintendent Jim Saunders, who is the head of local policing for Bedfordshire will take over as Gold Commander, he will take direct responsibility for the leadership of the police response. With immediate effect he will move from Headquarters in Kempston to Luton Police Station, and will be based there for the foreseeable future. He will be working closely with the local area commander Superintendent David Boyle.
Superintendent David Boyle will focus on community engagement and his team will continue to have a high profile in the area to ensure residents have a point of contact directly with the force so they may ask the team any questions they have about this case. He will also be increasing our Community Cohesion Team in Luton, and has been given extra resources to help with this. I want to ensure that you feel confident in the Police in your area, please help us to do this by talking to David and his team.
We will continue to work with our partners, including Luton Borough Council to make Luton as safe a place as it possibly can be. My executive team will be meeting with the executive team from the Local Authority to ensure that we work together to get things right and to ensure that Faruk and his family receive the best possible support in these difficult circumstances. We will be working with all of our partners, community and faith leaders, and will be listening to your concerns and ideas about how we can do things better. I have cleared my appointments and I will be out and about in the forthcoming weeks in the community, speaking with those people who are concerned. I have written to Faruk’s family and hope to meet them next week so that I can answer as many questions as I can within the confines of an ongoing investigation.
In Bedfordshire we deal with approximately 1000 calls a day, which result in approximately 400 incidents, and thankfully nearly all of these incidents are dealt with professionally and without coming to wider public attention. Unfortunately there are occasions where things do not go as well as we would like. My officers and staff continue to work hard every day to ensure Luton and Bedfordshire is as safe as it can be and they too are concerned about what has happened to Mr Ali and his family. Without prejudicing any investigation, be reassured that should any wrong doing be uncovered, it will be dealt with.
Please share this letter with your friends and relatives. While I know that you may still have questions I have not been able to answer now, we must allow a fair and transparent investigation and the statutory processes in place to reach their conclusion. I am keen to try and do this as quickly as possible but want it to be a just and thorough investigation into what has happened.
I will be in Luton over the next few weeks and I am keen to speak to as many of you as possible.