Raj Patel, Leeds, rang to complain about some really heavy-handed treatment. Two women came into his store at closing time and he thought they looked shifty (one of them was looking up and down the street). He thought they were mother and daughter with the daughter looking well over 18 (she was 6ft tall). He sold them alcohol and staff put the shutters down as he headed for the garage.
A few minutes later the police started kicking the shutters, to gain entry. It was recorded on CCTV. (The police later told him they would have broken in but couldn’t be bothered because it was the end of their shift.)
Five of them came back the next day, arrested him for obstructing police, cuffed him and took him in – where they did the fingerprints, DNA, the whole works.
It cost Raj £600 for a solicitor and the court virtually threw the case out. He got a conditional discharge and now has a criminal record.
He has had two test purchases since and – as he is the only Asian on the parade – he feels there is now low key harassment that is racially motivated. Everyone he has talked to has said he has a case against the police.
I sent Raj to the Equality and Human Rights Commission but they won’t deal with cases involving police. They sent him to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) but he is worried about repercussions so won’t make a formal complaint.
A lot of people do, though. During 2007/08 nearly 30,000 individuals made complaints about the conduct of “persons serving with the police”. But as a spokeswoman for the IPCC said to me: “We would encourage people to have confidence in the system but it’s more easily said than done.” Any similar tales? We want to know.