28th July 2015

The family of Sean Rigg today welcomed the announcement by the Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, that all vans equipped to transport detainees to custody in the London area will soon include CCTV.  This initiative has been informed by the concerns of bereaved families not least the family of Sean Rigg. It is of course regrettable that low public trust in the police means that the police are now expected to film their interactions with the public.

The lawyers for Sean Rigg’s family are considering the announcement in detail and will raise any concerns in the coming weeks; but, one immediate potential problem appears to be the need for the ignition to be turned on before the cameras start to record, which is likely to mean that members of the public will not be able to rely on recordings where they have been placed in the back of a police van after it has been idle for 30 minutes, for example at demonstrations or street festivals in the capital.

It is also important that other police forces move swiftly to also install cameras and that a national standard is agreed and fully implemented.

Marcia Rigg-Samuel, the oldest sister of Sean Rigg, said in response to the announcement:

“I am so pleased that the Commissioner has responded positively to what I, and many families, have called for when faced with unanswered questions about what happens to a member of the public who disappears into the back of a police van and emerges with unaccounted for injuries or in ill health. If there had been cameras in place back in August 2008 when my brother was detained in Brixton then the footage would have answered many key questions which remain under investigation by the IPCC to this day. There must be a zero tolerance culture to failures to operate within the new policy so it becomes unacceptable for the police to say the footage isn’t there because ‘it wasn’t working’.”

Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST, said:

“This will only be a step in the right direction if the public can be assured that these cameras will work properly. However it should not be seen as the answer to the problems of poor policing practice and inadequate systems of accountability. There must be effective independent inspection and monitoring of this new system. Where poor practice, misconduct or criminality is caught on camera it must lead to appropriate sanctions.”