Police to explain broken CCTV after station death

 

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The Independent Online

Serious concerns have emerged about faulty CCTV at one of Britain's most notorious police stations which was at the centre of the summer riots and a death in custody scandal.

Brixton police chiefs must explain another broken camera in the busy station – three years after vital evidence about a death in custody was missed because of broken CCTV.

Sean Rigg, 40, died after being placed in a metal cage in the yard at Brixton police station in August 2008. Information from the minutes before his death is missing because CCTV in the yard was allegedly not working. This led to strong criticisms from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2009 which recommended the out-of-date system be replaced as soon as possible.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) recommended a review of the station's CCTV. But earlier this month a memorial to Mr Rigg was desecrated outside the station and the CCTV camera pointing in that direction was not working.

This incident occurred three weeks after London rioters caused considerable damage to Brixton businesses.

The Metropolitan Police last night said it "did not believe" the camera was working during the riots, but it had now been fixed. The CCTV is checked annually or if a fault is reported. This admission comes as the Metropolitan Police compelled media organisations to hand over footage from the riots.

The Labour MP John McDonnell, secretary of the National Union of Journalists' group in Parliament, said: "The Met should concentrate in getting its own act together rather than hassling journalists who are undertaking their proper role in exposing crime in our society."

The Rigg family are "shocked" at the broken camera because dozens of officers had gathered near the station on the anniversary of Sean Rigg's death on 21 August. The police show of force was probably because they feared trouble, following the death of Mark Duggan. He had been shot dead by police in Tottenham two weeks earlier, which triggered the riots.

Marcia Rigg, Sean Rigg's sister, said: "CCTV is crucial evidence ... so why isn't someone checking to see whether cameras work? How can we be sure the cameras inside Brixton station aren't broken?"

An inquest into Mr Rigg's death will be held next June, but the family are still struggling to get CCTV footage from the IPCC. Family lawyer Anna Mazzola said CCTV, or a lack of it, is partly why the family see his death as suspicious.

Brian Paddick, former borough commander, said: "The police need to understand that ensuring CCTV in sensitive areas such the backyard where Mr Rigg died and in front of the [Tube] station where Jean Charles de Menezes was shot, is as much to protect them as anyone else. Not to ensure cameras are working is serious neglect of duty on their part."

The Metropolitan Police insists CCTV did not "capture" the memorial anyway. The family disputes this. "New CCTV systems were introduced in compliance with the [HMIC] recommendations," the police said.

Brixton MP Chuka Umana is now pursuing the family's concerns with the police.