Rashan Charles' great uncle offers to help police heal community relations
- Credit: Archant
The great uncle of Rashan Charles, the young man died after a police chase in Hackney, is hoping to bridge the “widening” gap between the police and the community by offering interactive, specific training for every officer.
Rod Charles, a retired Hammersmith and Fulham chief inspector who worked in the Met for 30 years, has created a bespoke training programme for widespread roll out within the force, with topics including managing the past, restoring community confidence, inspections and reviews, supporting frontline personnel and allegations of racial profiling.
The 56-year-old is the great uncle of Rashan Charles, who died after he was chased by a police officer and wrestled to the ground in Dalston in 2017.
A package containing paracetamol and caffeine was retrieved from his throat by a paramedic and he was taken to hospital, but died an hour later.
“Police relationships, as a teenager in Hackney, were shocking," Rod said. "Now, the relationship with some members of the community and police officers is worse.
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“There has been no progress in 40 years? The police could claim all they are getting is criticism and negative feedback and I accept they are getting a lot of it, but it’s with the point of getting change in the community.
“My aim here is to sort it out."
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Although Rod has been in conversation with Borough Commander Marcus Barnett, he said he is not hopeful the Met Police will take up his offer.
"I don’t believe that the police will take it up because it will be too much pain to get through - but they need to go through the pain of change because they are the paid professionals," said Rod.
“This is important to stop the Met freefalling – some may say I am melodramatic, I say I am not. I say the Met and other forces are close to crossing the Rubicon. I am not blaming the police, I just think the police need to change their approach.”
He said officers need to better understand the damage caused by events in the past: "Young police officers, they will engage with individuals in the street and some people are very hostile and that is because they have family history of bad experiences.
"For example, if the police stop the vehicle of the family of Joy Gardner [and the driver is hostile towards the police], it’s flawed [for the officer] to say it has nothing to do with them - they are right to say it's literally not the same person, but you are a police officer and we have flawed officers who did create this terrible scene."
Joy Gardner died in 1993 after being bound with 13 feet of tape and a belt by officers from the Met Police’s now-disbanded Alien Deportation Group.
Rod continued: “You can't say 'let's forget the past and move forward', because a family member will not do that."
If the Met Police take up his offer, Rod said he would set his sights at forces further afield and tailor the course to fit their needs.
It would not be free, but any costs would only cover Rod's expenses.
A spokesperson from the Met Police said: "Cmdr Barnett and Mr Charles have had a number of positive conversations.
"We carefully consider any suggestions about how we can support our officers to engage effectively with the communities they serve."