‘MAJOR questions will need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police as to how this everyday event escalated into an armed raid, during which deadly force could so easily and tragically have been unleashed upon Mina and her children,’ said solicitor Iain Gould in a blog post about the midnight armed police operation in Camden, north-west London on Friday, 17th July.
His client Mina Agyepong, 42, said her young son was arrested when he opened the door, and that about ten firearms police officers were ‘aiming their rifles at me and my girls and shouting for us to put our hands up’.
She added: ‘I saw there were red dots on my daughters’ heads and I started to get really scared. I honestly believed if the officers got alarmed in any way, they would shoot.’
Gould was responding to a Met Police statement that said: ‘A male in the property was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and taken into a police van outside the house. The other residents were escorted out of the property while a search was conducted …’
Gould continued: ‘Such is the dispassionate, almost robotic, tone of a Metropolitan Police statement made in response to a shocking incident last Friday night involving my client Alice Mina Agyepong and her young family.
‘But sometimes “dispassionate” can shade into “disingenuous”, for what that carefully crafted statement fails to make clear is that the “male” who was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm, was in fact Mina’s 12 year old son Kai … who had been doing nothing more than playing with his toy gun in the living room of his house.
‘The disingenuous and defensive nature of the Police statement is further reflected in the choice of words used to later describe Kai – “the youth” and (inaccurately) “the teenager” – words which obviously tend to convey an impression that Kai was far older than 12, perhaps a young adult rather than, as he is, a child.
‘It seems that a passerby telephoned the Police after peering in through the living room of the family’s home and seeing Kai playing (alone) with his plastic toy gun.
‘The rest of the family (Mina and her two daughters) were then awoken in terrifying circumstances as armed Police stormed the house, training their – very real – firearms on Mina and her children and forcing them to march outside with their hands up, where they were detained in full view of the neighbourhood whilst Mina’s house was, in her words, “ransacked” by the Police, who were doubtless hoping to find something – anything ? – that would justify such a gross and disproportionate invasion of the family’s home.
‘During this time, Kai, a Year 7 pupil at Maria Fidelis Catholic School, was kept handcuffed in a Police vehicle before being eventually “de-arrested” when the Police established that they had terrorised the family for no purpose other than to arrest a child for playing with a toy in his own home.
‘ … Major questions will need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police as to how this everyday event escalated into an armed raid, during which deadly force could so easily and tragically have been unleashed upon Mina and her children.
‘Even as it stands, with the physical force being “confined” to the handcuffing of a 12 year old boy, the emotional and psychological impact cannot be underestimated.
‘For a family to have the safety and sanctity of their home violated in such a way, is literally the stuff of nightmares.
‘And not least amongst the questions to be answered will be to what degree the Police response to the report they received was escalated because of the colour of Kai’s skin.
‘Given the knowledge we already have in relation to disproportionate uses of force and Police powers generally upon black people, this is a very real concern.
‘I have accepted instructions to act on behalf of Mina and Kai to assist with their Police complaint, and, in due course, to commence a claim for compensation against the Police.
‘Mina also feels, quite rightly, that people need to know about this incident so that the full spotlight of public scrutiny can be shone upon the Police.
‘As a result, she has provided interviews to ITV, BBC and Channel 4 news.
‘As I have said before, media attention upon cases of suspected Police misconduct and wrongdoing is a crucial part of the power which civil society has to balance out the power of the Police, and to avert future cases of error and abuse.
‘I am happy to be playing my part in this case, but so too is every responsible citizen who learns of the case and reflects upon it, and asks the questions which hold the Police to account.’
Making clear that the Police intend to carry on as ‘normal’ and get away with their terrorising of this family if they possibly can, the Met’s most senior firearms officer Commander Kyle Gordon said on Sunday: ‘I have personally watched body-worn video of the incident, and whilst I can understand concerns in terms of how the incident has been reported in some quarters, I am content from what I have seen that the officers were professional throughout and took time to explain to the residents what was happening and why.’
He added that the person was right to call the police, and urged others to do the same if they saw similar ‘weapons’.
The Met has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and Agyepong is pursuing a complaint against the force.
- In May 2020, the Metropolitan Police stopped and searched 1,418 people under section 60, more than double the number stopped in May 2019, data shows.
Orders under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act allow officers to stop and search people with no grounds for suspicion.
Police are only supposed to authorise the use of Section 60 when there has been serious violence or where there is a risk it may occur in a particular area.
However, Police in London issued 65 such authorisations in May 2020, a sharp rise from 13 times in April and higher than equivalent months in recent years, according to data collected by the civil rights group Liberty through freedom of information requests.
Liberty calls for the repeal of the Coronavirus Act, which it credits for the surge in Section 60 stop and searches.
In London, black people are four times more likely than white people to be subject to a stop and search.
This rises when the requirement of ‘reasonable grounds’ is removed under Section 60, to more than 11 times in London and higher elsewhere.
Director of Liberty, Martha Spurrier, said police were handed ‘extraordinary powers to enforce the lockdown and detain anyone who could be infectious.’
She said that there is evidence of ‘overzealous policing’ and ‘rapid changes to the rules were accompanied by more chaotic communications, leaving people fearing criminal sanctions for unknown offences.’
She said: ‘The government needs to commit to scrapping the Coronavirus Act and take this opportunity to build a public health strategy that has human rights at its heart.
‘It’s long past time to scrap Section 60 stop and search and take meaningful action on discrimination in British policing.’
Liberty’s independent journalism unit found that the police powers introduced to enforce the coronavirus lockdown have followed patterns of discrimination shown in stop and search.
This week, Liberty has sent a briefing to every MP setting out the dangers of such sweeping criminal justice powers and called for the Coronavirus Act to be repealed.
The legislation, which was passed in March, gives the police broad new powers to detain anyone who could be infectious – and hold them without a judge’s authority.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, every single prosecution under these provisions of the Act was unlawful.
Liberty said the day after parliament passed the Act, the government introduced further powers under emergency legislation to police the coronavirus lockdown, regularly changing these without warning or justification.
The legislation includes regulations limiting movement and how and where people can associate with each other.