Police drop Hackney-wide sanctions on man after Liberty challenge

Posted on 22 Jul 2022

  • Man had been handed ban on entering Shoreditch after filming a police stop and search
  • Sanctions included ‘being found’ near residential areas in Hackney, or being within 20 metres of a bus stop or train station
  • Liberty calls for an end to intrusive sanctions, saying they violate client’s privacy and freedom of expression

The Metropolitan Police have dropped wide-ranging sanctions against a man in London which banned him from ‘loitering or being found’ near any residential area in Hackney after he filmed a police officer carrying out a stop and search.

In a legal appeal to the Metropolitan Police, Liberty argued that the Community Protection Notice (CPN) handed to the client was unreasonable and contained a series of broad and unclear conditions. CPNs are sanctions which can be handed out by police and council officers prohibiting individuals from engaging in certain behaviours.

Liberty’s client, John (name anonymised for his privacy) was handed a CPN by a police officer in April 2022 after filming a stop and search in Shoreditch while on his way home. John has previously filed complaints to the police directly around police misconduct n Hackney and was known to local police as often recording officers carrying out measures like stop and search.

In the notice, John was informed by the officer he had filmed that he was banned from returning to Shoreditch between the hours of Thursday 00:00 until Sunday at 23:59. The conditions were so broad and unclear that he could have been in breach of the notice if he was on a bus that simply passed through Shoreditch during these times on its way to another destination.

The notice handed to John who has no previous criminal convictions and is not homeless, also prevented him from being ‘within 20 metres’ of bus stops and train stations, being in possession of any open containers that could be used for begging or being in possession of more than one phone. Liberty, in its appeal, argued that these conditions do not relate to the client’s previous behaviour and unfairly restrict his right to roam.

John has no previous criminal convictions but for the last two years has been regularly stopped by the police, who have also accused him of harassing police officers simply because he was lawfully filming them. The police have not presented any proof of wrongdoing, and the previous prosecution against him have collapsed because the Crown Prosecution Service uncovered evidence which not only undermined the police’s case but was also likely to assist in Johnny’s defence.

On his behalf, Liberty challenged the Met Police for their decision to issue the CPN on the grounds that many of the conditions were unreasonable and went against his human rights.

On Tuesday 12 July, the day before the first hearing was due to take place, the police agreed to cancel the intrusive CPN and dropped all sanctions against John.

Among other legal arguments, Liberty said the terms of the CPN breached the client’s right to human dignity, privacy and freedom of expression, and requested that the CPN be scrapped immediately.

Liberty lawyer, Lara ten Caten said:

“We should all be free to walk around our neighbourhoods without being detained by local police officers. Police powers are being used far too broadly, and in this case illegitimately. We are pleased that the Met Police have finally dropped this unreasonable CPN against our client, which has interfered with his rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

“The measures enforced by CPNs often amount to little more than a ban on begging, or a ploy to try and move a perceived ‘problem’ out of the way. In recent months people have been banned from even carrying open cups, and in this case, from entering an entire borough in London in certain hours unless our client had a pre-arranged appointment. This U-turn from the Metropolitan Police should send a crucial message to all police forces that they must stop criminalising people without evidence.

“The issuing of disproportionate CPNs is very worrying at any time, but even more so now. By ripping up the Human Rights Act the Government and state bodies are trying to make themselves untouchable. We must remain vigilant and hold those in power to account.”

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