Operation to crack down on Dalston street robberies erupted into 'violence'

Samir Jeraj shared this picture on social media

Samir Jeraj shared this picture on social media - Credit: Samir Jeraj

Politicians want to hear from police bosses about how an operation to clamp down on street robberies in Dalston escalated into “violent scenes” and claims that a protester was hit by police.

It comes after campaigners filmed a protester allegedly being hit repeatedly by police as he was on the ground near Kingsland shopping centre.

The Metropolitan Police said it is investigating what happened during a police operation designed to clamp down on moped and e-scooter crime in Ashwin Street in Dalston (Saturday, May 14). 

Earlier passers-by moved in to stop police carrying out an arrest over an alleged immigration offence, according to the police.

Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville and Susan Fajana-Thomas, the councillor with responsibility for community safety, said: “We strongly condemn the violent scenes that took place, and which many people witnessed.”

A joint statement said: “Disorder like this is simply unacceptable, and it is clear that both police officers and the community were impacted by it. ”

It added: ”We do now know that it was an attempt to tackle the rising numbers of street robberies and other offences being committed by people on scooters and bikes – but not linked to delivery drivers – in the area.

"However, over the next few days we will be working with the police to establish to understand what went wrong and how the situation escalated."
 

Samir Jeraj shared this picture on social media

Samir Jeraj shared this picture on social media - Credit: Samir Jeraj

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Police said a “large crowd gathered” as people out a shout out on social media to prevent the arrest.

They said several police officers were injured and vehicles damaged. They also arrested several people, including for alleged violent disorder.

Police said its directorate of professional standards would “review any footage showing use of force". 

Hackney police said: “We would urge people to remember that such videos rarely provide a full and accurate picture of what is taking place.”

The Glanville-Cllr Fajana-Thomas statement added: “The council is committed to rebuilding community trust and confidence in the police, but incidents like the one on Saturday night can undermine that process. We’re determined to help broker better relationships between the police and all our communities.”

Hackney mayoral candidate and newly-elected Dalston Green party councillor Zoe Garbett condemned the “threatening” incident on Saturday.

She went to the scene and said: “The situation escalated quickly with, at its height, about 100 police in attendance with multiple clashes between the protesters and the police.

“The police were pursuing and arresting people. I witnessed the police forcefully pushing people and throwing them to the ground or out the way and using batons to hit people.

"It felt incredibly unsafe and threatening particularly with the police charging into the crowd and at individuals. There was a lot of disruption and distress caused for residents living, shopping and working in the area.”

Ms Garbett added: “I did not see and there did not appear to be any attempts by the police to de-escalate the situation.”

She added couriers had to stop work as restaurants closed for a short time during what would normally be a busy Saturday evening for them.

She criticised the way the police acted. "The approach taken by the police was disproportionate and inflammatory, ” she added. 

Cllr Garbett said wants to meet police to discuss how the area is policed and to see the Dalston Police Ward Forum brought back “as a place for the community to scrutinise the police and set appropriate priorities which are agreed with the community”.

BACKGROUND 

In January eight fast food couriers were arrested during an immigration raid in Dalston and 22 mopeds were seized on alleged insurance grounds.

It came two days after a protest by couriers over a safe and affordable place where they can wait to collect food orders from restaurants in Kingsland High Street.

The Independent Workers GB Union said it was concerned the raids in January “were punitive” .

Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville said at the time: “I do not support immigration raids. The police should be allowed to enforce on issues of licensing and insurance to keep all road users safe. But, we have been very clear in the past that we do not support immigration raids linked to enforcement action.”