Time to monitor police: PC Simon Harwood, sacked over Ian Tomlinson death, accused of assaulting schoolgirl

Simon Harwood, the former Metropolitan police officer sacked over his actions which led to the death of Ian Tomlinson, but walked free from court, is said to have been accused of having beaten and assaulted a 12 year old girl.

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The Independent Online

 

Emilie Diakiese, a 19 year old psychology student, who was 12 when the alleged incident took place, has accused Harwood of attacking and racially assaulting her.

The incident which happened in 2006, according to Diakiese, followed her father's arrest in South London after Harwood who had spotted them together in the street, confiscated Diakiese's father's phone and drove them to their family home.

Harwood allegedly then called the Home Office having first accused the family of being illegal immigrants. After Harwood established that they were not, Emilie, who originally is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, asked for her father's mobile phone to be returned.

It is at this point, that according to Emilie, Harwood then dragged her outside to the police car, and punched her in the head while racially insulting her.

According to a news report Emilie explained:

“I was terrified, screaming at him to let me go. My wrists and arms were hurting so much from the handcuffs and my feet were bleeding. Then in the back of the car he started punching me in the back of the head.”

Mr Harwood was sacked last Monday  by the Met for using 'unnecessary force' on Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in 2009.  Mr Tomlinson later died as a result of being pushed to the ground by Harwood, in an incident which was initially denied by the Met, and only investigated once the Guardian newspaper obtained and published video footage of the incident.

After much controversy surrounding the botched initial post mortem examinations, and following a trial, Harwood was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

The incident, which was caught on camera, and the eventual trial of Harwood were significant, as the long and chequered history of police brutality remains, with little or no obvious reform, and so too remains a culture of impunity, seemingly operating for the police themselves-despite what many felt was a clear cut case-especially given the video footage.

The new accusations about the behaviour of Harwood, underpin calls for serious structural changes to take place within the police, and for adequate processes and safeguards to be implemented.

Solicitor Jules Carey , of Tuckers Solicitors, who is representing Emilie's family, has said: “The Met ­recently admitted their vetting ­procedures were flawed. It is now time for them to admit that ­disciplinary procedures are also hopelessly inadequate.”

Questions are being raised as to how it was possible that, Mr Harwood, who had a long history of violent behaviour, was able to continue to remain in the police for so long.

The fact that the police sacked Harwood, in the aftermath of a trial in which he was acquitted, is a stark contradiction that for many reflects the inadequacy of our justice system, as well as serving to highlight the legitimate concerns around the question of the competency of the police.

It is notable, that the trial, which ultimately saw Harwood acquitted, despite the video footage, despite other evidence-and the unacceptable inadequacy of the initial post mortem examinations-had to be fought for by the Tomlinson family.

It is also notable, that while the Court cleared Harwood, the trial and new revelations are set against a backdrop of distrust, a tarred legacy over the never ending list of unexplained deaths in custody.  The allegations also accompany concerns over the fact that many believe the police are still institutionally racist, in terms of the level of service provided to the people, and also in terms of the upper ranks of the police force being mostly male and pale- just like politics and almost every other institution.

The riots in 2011 happened for many reasons.  Along with the factors which ultimately caused them, including joblessness, poverty, anger and frustration at the draconian educational cuts enforced by a largely privately educated unelected Oxbridge millionaire government, the Harwood case also underpins the problem that became the catalyst for the riots; the actions of the police.

In 2011 it was the killing of Mark Duggan which proved to be the trigger which caused widespread damage to property and to people's lives.  It was the demonstration over Duggan's death, and the failure of the police to at the very least to communicate with his family that led to subsequent events.

Harwood's behaviour, and his service to the police despite his violent past, which ultimately cost the Tomlinson family, is symptomatic of a much wider problem.

The new accusations levelled at Harwood, by Emilie Diakiese, if found to be true, will further highlight the desperate need for culpability and reform, within an institution that should after all serve the people.

Until people like Harwood are punished, and until it is clear that the same rule of law applies to everyone-including the police and politicians-and the culture of non-transparency and impunity is smashed-cynicism towards the police will continue and worsen.

The responsibility of repairing the relationship between the public and the police ultimately lies with the police themselves.  While the police force continues to reflect the disconnect between ruling class and the elite, by continuing to falter at the hurdle of reform, this state of affairs will continue, and will make scenarios like the 2011 riots all the more likely to be repeated.  That surely, is something that none of us want to see.

We need to pressure the police at every possible juncture, democratically, in order to bring about the kind of reform we would like to see.  Deaths in custody, the disproportionate effect of stop and search on black people, and the continued campaign to have the DNA of innocent people removed from the police national DNA database, are not issues that can be looked at in isolation; the lack of progression in these areas which fuels the cynicism that the police need to break down are all part of a much wider picture. 

Until people feel that these issues are being tackled head on, and not just being paid lip service to, we are likely to see the ramifications of such cynicism manifest in precisely the kinds of places we don't want to see it.  It's up to all of us to build the kind of political pressure which will demand a change in culture.  It's not going to be handed to us.

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