Show them what time it is.

by Bristol Copwatch

Hi! it’s good to catch up once again! We’ve been quiet on this blog for a good few months and hope to keep it updated a lot more regularly. It’s fair to say the past 6 months or so has been exceptionally busy for us and as a grassroots police monitoring group it’s really important to manage our capacity and develop what we do.

In the past 3 years of our existence we’ve achieved a lot and helped people in Bristol and across the county get things put right when it comes to issues with the police. A lot of our work in this area is ongoing. We’ve monitored the police ( although a little reactively )on the street and since 2021 have spent time working on developing relationships with other monitoring groups, organisations and of course with communities we support.

If 2022 was anything it was overall a very strong year for us when it came to workshops and events around the UK and of course in Bristol, focusing on stop and search know your rights and bystander intervention We loved paying Oxford a visit twice last year for community and student events and of course Bristol Transformed in the summer allowed us to help build community resilience and share knowledge and educate others on their rights in the face of police contact.

2022 concluded with 2 workshops in Vauxhall for our friends at StopWatch and the awesome RAW Festival on technology and the law and bystander intervention and it was fantastic to make new friends and allies at Black Creatives and speak at the excellent Children of Tomorrow fundraiser for the family of Chris Kaba at Trinity in December last year. As with everything we do it’s all about community DIY. Collectively we have a lot of power.

Art on display at Children of Tomorrow on the 16/12/22. The artist is Oshii. The pieces were auctioned off and profits were donated to the family of Chris Kaba. Always remember that communities fighting back against police brutality and for accountability hit harder than Tyson.

After the sudden and tragic passing of one of our core organising team Ahmed Fofanah last August we fund raised close to 6k for his family and will never be silent about the brutality, racism, harassment and injustice he faced at the hands of Avon and Somerset Police. As Ahmed himself would say we have to fight because if we don’t the police will continue to abuse their power and brutalise our communities.

Ahmed was our representative on the community engagement panel for the Co-POWeR project who we worked with since 2021 as part of work package 1 and a community engagement partner. You can find out more about Co-POWeR vital research here into the impact COVID-19 and emergency powers had on BAMEFC across the UK during the pandemic. Our founding member John Pegram in his own words stepped into shoes he could never fill and attended the Co-POWeR final conference in January 2023 in Leeds.

The findings of the project and in particular recommendations on the role of the police during a public health crisis can be found here. Although the project has since concluded we believe that the findings and research will provide a strong foundation and guidance for community resilience in the event another pandemic occurs. COVID-19 is not over and it is clear that racism was also the virus.

Which brings up to recent issues with the police. There is a distinct lack of ownership and accountability when it comes to institutional racism and other failings that are clearer than ever since the revelations of this month’s Casey report, but let’s be honest here. It’s something we’ve all known is a truth for decades. Chief Constable Sarah Crew in a disturbingly similar vein to Sir Mark Rowley refused to admit Avon and Somerset Police is institutionally racist in 2022 whilst in the same breath “committing” to anti racism work.

We at Bristol Copwatch believe “benevolent” Chief Constables and Commissioners set a dangerous precedent by refusing to take ownership of the harsh truth that is institutional racism and discrimination in the police. Being frank. there should be a thin blue line drawn in the sand when it comes to where exactly protecting an organisation begins and ends.

Locally we see a rapidly developing erosion of trust between the general pubic and the police and we are deeply concerned about the increased militarisation of the police with ARV patrols, increased compensation pay outs for serious misconduct and as always a clear eagerness to retain staff that should have never been placed into a position of power. Yesterday evening we attended the peaceful Kill The Bill 2 demonstration and march in Bristol and as John said in his speech outside Bridewell Police station

“over the past few years of our existence we have seen numerous abuses of power. We have witnessed the machinery of the state in action! We understand the damage the criminal justice system and the police can do to people’s lives.”

Which is why in 2023 we are very keen to develop more of a street presence and routinely monitor the police in our communities where we know stop and search is bad, where police harassment and targeting is commonplace and where some of the most vulnerable in our community can feel alone. We want you to know that you are never alone and that as always we see you because #WeCopWatch.

This Friday we’re discussing predictive policing in Avon and Somerset with the awesome Liberty and other civil society groups and community activists. All we know so far is that the police have risk scored 250,000 of us in this county and the IBM Offender Management predictive policing technology they use has no safe guarding to prevent profiling and discrimination, not only that but officers receive no training. What does police intervention for offenders on their localised gang matrix look like? We don’t know because Avon and Somerset Police won’t say. This is not how you build trust and heal divides.

Art by Ahmet Ogut

But being honest, we expect nothing less from Avon and Somerset Police. Our casework team has developed working relationships with the IOPC and organisations such as SARI to help support our community yet we remain fearless independent of police oversight as we will not erode trust in the communities we have supported since 2020. In 2023 we would like to see the police take ownership and acknowledge the damage and trauma they can create in people’s lives.

We would like policing which is clearly beyond reform to be reimagined for the better the role of the police to be assessed and for communities to work together to solve problems that currently rely on police intervention. These are goals we have that see beyond the current systems and structures but we work in the here and now. This year, let’s not leave anyone behind. Let’s fight for police accountability and for our rights and justice. Let’s show them what time it is.

Still a bloody criminal

By volunteer caseworker and Bristol Copwatch founder John Pegram

Here we are again, the police and me. If you have been following my fight for justice since around February this year you will know I´m on a long road. It´s actually close to 5 years in duration so far and I have a feeling I´m looking at a good year or so of legal battling before I finally hold not 1 but 3 police forces to account.

The missing piece to the data protection breach jig saw if you will currently appears to be West Yorkshire Police who targeted me in a public order operation in November 2019. In fact, they made their interest in me as an anti-racist activist that clear the intelligence team addressed me by my first name as they put me and friends in the bully van for daring to stand on the wrong bit of counter protest pavement.

Of course like before in September of that year with the British Transport Police the case was thrown out of court with no evidence. It was clear then as it is at the time of writing that the police don´t like us mixed black boys getting in the way of their Nazi friends marching.

You see, demonstrations aside the police and me have never got on. I used to have a drug problem. It got me in that much trouble I got sent to prison but even before I went through a cycle I was being racially profiled and stopped and searched by Hampshire Police.

Understanding the damage the criminal justice system does to lives as well as I do, I understand that in the eyes of the police I will always be a bloody criminal. I have seen it in the faces of cops I have helped the community navigate over the past couple of years of volunteering just like I have seen it in the eyes of broadbury road police officers when they threatened to search me for drugs and weapons in 2021 for not giving them my name and address when accused of stealing a motor bike.

Falling off my mountain bike drunk on a quiet road triggered the two ready for it cops (they had no interest in my well being ) but the complaint report read that I “fitted a description” which instigated their coordinated rush. Thankfully, I walked my bike home arrest free. That weekend I suffered a mental health breakdown due to police harassment and surveillance.

By Precious Adesina 31st January 2022

Having spoken to solicitors about the police´s interest in me the unofficial consensus seems to be that despite what I´m told I´m absolutely a person of interest due to previous political activism and my work as a community activist. This was validated recently when I received my SAR (subject access request) from BTP and West Yorkshire Police.

Seeing yourself on an intelligence team spreadsheet is pretty distressing but then again so are race card comments and CSI flags. So are data protection exemptions. At points my younger John has put his hand on my shoulder and we have sat together and talked and cried. They used to stop and search me for riding on the pavement.

These days the area cars don´t turn around flash their lights and stop when they see me. I feel free. Last year I began therapy due to the trauma created from my past and of course from police contact. You see, I spent years navigating a journey I never wanted to make. It´s broken me down and torn me to shreds but as always I get back up and just keep fighting. Resilience is something you learn to build in the face of police contact and harassment especially when you know the cops responsible are racists.

Earlier this month I attended a community meeting on ARV patrols in St Anne´s Bristol with the PCC and neighbourhood police present. The armed police are responding to incidents when there is no need for armed police.

This creates an increased level of mistrust in so called community policing in fact there is a clear failure by the police to bridge an increasingly wide divide between themselves and the community, although on the 18th at the very least they listened to our concerns.

When it comes to my own experiences with the police and my work in the community I do my best to put others before myself. Bristol Copwatch has never been a political stance or statement but rather an organisation that exists to monitor and challenge police misconduct.

Our overarching mission is to think beyond solutions that result in often disproportionate, violent and sometimes fatal police responses but we work in the here and now. We stand for and believe in community safety. We are still building ground up but for me it´s a labour of love. If you win then I do. That´s the triple truth b.

The next few months is a busy one for us event and workshop wise but we´re still keen on building that ground swell to get out there and monitor the cops where they´re hot and where they´re not. If you would like to get involved in that side of our work just email

When it comes to myself and the fight for my rights I have no intention of backing down. You see I never thought that anyone would see me let alone care. But it turns out you did and that angry mixed race black boy sure knows how to fight Here´s to justice whenever it may come. Here we are again you and me. Let´s cop watch.

Support The Fofanah Family

By Bristol Copwatch

We are absolutely stoked to see our fund raiser Support The Fofanah Family for Martina and family has so far raised over £3,000! we’d just like to say thanks to everyone who has donated so far and we have now raised our goal to a stretch target of £7,000 we’re confident with the community behind us as always we can do this!

Ahmed’s contribution to our work and his friendship meant a lot to all of us in the Bristol Copwatch team. His resilience and determination should be an inspiration to anyone who fights for their rights. We see you. #WeCopWatch.

Our aims and objectives 2022 update

Here’s another look at our aims and objectives and most importantly our new posters and fliers designed by the awesome Fan The Flames Marketing and Design! Look out for them round your ends soon! As always #WeCopwatch

Our dear friend Ahmed

By all of us at Bristol Copwatch

On the 4th of August 2022, our dear friend and fellow cop watcher Ahmed Fofanah tragically and suddenly left us. All of us within the Bristol Copwatch core organising team are devastated by his death and will never forget his importance as someone we supported during his fight for justice and as a strong black man and loving father and husband.

We were deeply saddened to learn of his passing as he meant so much to all of us. His resilience and sheer bravery and determination in the face of adversity were truly beautiful things and seeing him rise time and again was an inspiration to us all.

His kindness and depth as a human struck a chord with all of us and his presence and strong voice lit up a room when he told the story of his journey. It was and still is an honour to have supported Ahmed and his family and just like before we are here when they need us the most.

We will never forget the gentle giant that graced us with his presence for over a year of his life and everything we do as a monitoring group will honour his memory. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time. Below are some words from Ken Hinds, The Man In Me and Parents Together platforms.

“We at “The Man In Me and Parents Together” platforms are sadden and devastated at the sudden loss of our beloved brother Ahmed.

He has been and continues to be an inspiration to us all. We were privileged to listen to his life’s challenging journey. Which he shared with us openly, with integrity and courage. We shared some highs and lows it was deeply emotional and real.

Our deepest and sincere condolences goes out to his wife Martina, his children, grandchildren family and friends all over the world.

Travel well Afrikan Warrior and Brother King as you transcend to be with the ancestors.
Ase Ase Ase”

To our dear friend Ahmed, rest in power. From all of us.

They don’t protect us

By John Pegram, Bristol Copwatch founder, and caseworker

We’ve been fairly quiet over the past few months with this blog and I think it’s fair to say we’ve been very busy so apologies for the radio silence. If you follow us on Twitter or any of our other social channels you should be able to keep track of what’s grinding our gears when it comes to local and national policing on a daily basis and if you frequent our site I hope you like the new Bristol Copwatch Allies and Community support pages!

Since April we’ve seen a significant surge in the number of people in the community who need our support and at points, it can feel like we’re fire fighting so we’ve begun some internal discussions on how we can tackle the issues we’re seeing on a daily and weekly basis more effectively. We’ve developed our understanding of Avon and Somerset Police and suspect the vindictive nature we’ve encountered on several occasions now is a deeply rooted institutional problem.

It goes way beyond misconduct and falls more in line with historic accounts of policing vendettas that came to light once again in February of this year. Despite the condemnations of the police with the clearly prepared “We’re not like that anymore!” response we know this is a falsehood, but what’s most concerning is, is that such incidents are turned a blind eye to.

The same rule of thumb it seems applies to neighbourhood harassment and victimisation of anyone who is a person of colour or is seen to be “different” from the harassers and therefore a viable target. The police either outright ignore any reports they receive or side with the abusers. Making a complaint about misconduct can result in targeting by the police and very rarely are complaints ever upheld.

In this county and we know from our national monitoring work it’s the same wherever you go if you take action against the police you can risk becoming a target for them, however, it is absolutely essential that we do not let police harassment and intimidation tactics scare us away from our fights for justice.

As the government unleashes yet more draconian and autocratic laws and legislation that provide the police with even less accountability and even more power fighting for your rights should become second nature to all of us. The recent article in the Bristol Cable about an autistic woman who has successfully sued the police caught my attention this week.

It caught my attention because her story is so very similar to my own current fight for justice and it reminded me that what has happened to both of us are not cases that exist in isolation. Avon and Somerset Police’s data protection practices are quite frankly scandalous and the staff that action malicious, inaccurate, unfair, and unlawful entries are behaving quite ironically like criminals.

If Chief Constable Sarah Crew wants to build a new community-focused, anti-racist holistic police force then she must and without delay put her house in order and take a harder stance on police misconduct. Former Chief Constable Andy Marsh claimed that “rogue” police are “hard to force out” I personally think it must be a challenging job when you’re down the pub with them every other week but let’s be honest here, it speaks volumes about the culture of silence and complete lack of accountability that is so prevalent in policing.

So how can we fight for change and is it even worth holding the police to account? you may wonder. As I said earlier it is absolutely essential we fight for our rights at present. The levels of misconduct we have witnessed over the past few months as bystanders on the street and as volunteer caseworkers should never be unchallenged.

It has been particularly hard for me at points due to my own journey through the criminal justice system and stop and search to put my personal views on policing to one side when supporting others but I’m stronger every day I help someone take action. Some would say I’m very much an “us and them” kind of guy, but some would say that there is a lot of good the police do just like some feel stop and search is necessary and vital police power.

I respect those views just as I stand in solidarity with any family who has ever lost a loved one to serious violence. The fundamental issue with policing from my point of view alone is that until strategy changes at the very top as to the way we are policed then nothing will change. Until deeply rooted institutional racism and prejudice change then nothing will change and from where I’m standing right now the future looks depressingly bleak. As sociologist Alex Vitale would say the problem is policing itself.

As a community-focused and fiercely independent police monitoring organisation we make a point of engaging at the street level with local communities to understand the issues they are facing. The media-friendly Avon and Somerset Police are adept at ignoring the issues we try to help fix on a regular basis. Only by ownership and accountability will Chief Constable Sarah Crew and Avon and Somerset Police begin to heal divides that it alone has created. The police have never protected me and in July of 2022, it’s safe to say they don’t protect us.

Oxford Workshop 09/04/22- Stop and search, bystander intervention and how to Copwatch

We’ve got a workshop coming up in Oxford on 09/04/22 at Blackbird Leys Community Centre with Oxford Copwatch, other groups, and community members who want to monitor the police in their county. The event will be starting from 2pm and our founding member John and fellow cop watcher Ahmed from our core team are heading to Oxford to deliver a workshop on Stop and Search, subject access requests, bystander intervention and how to Copwatch. 

Both speakers have lived experiences of police harassment and trauma from police contact and stop and search. They will also be discussing the national phenomenon of Copwatch groups emerging across the UK and how we can work together to hold the police to account!

Here is an interview with Ahmed from 2020 with Weston Supermare Black Lives Matter to give you an understanding of his disgusting treatment by Avon and Somerset Police. We’re very pleased to say things have begun to improve for him since then and with a data protection breach claim against Avon and Somerset Police it looks like things are heading the same way for John.

It’s been eye opening and rewarding supporting both of them and we are still actively supporting others in the community who are on the sharp end of police harassment and abuse of power. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to connecting with other cop watchers on the 9th of April! This year let’s show the police what time it is.

23/04/22 Community testimony day -The Impact Of Policing During COVID 19 

On the 23rd of April we’ve got a community testimony day coming up with Co-POWeR at the Malcolm X community centre St Paul’s Bristol from 13.00 to 15.00. We’re also hosting a stop and search workshop with an introduction to Bristol Copwatch and the work we do in the community hosted by our founding member John, who has lived experience of stop and search and police harassment. Most importantly  It’s your chance to share your views on policing during lockdown and to “help create a permanent record for future generations.”

Co-POWeR will present their findings to parliament later this year with a view of making recommendations that instigate change in how black and brown communities are policed and how we can be supported to build resilience following the pandemic.

This Community Testimony Day will be collecting testimonies and views of BAME families and communities on the policing of emergency powers (e.g., mandatory face masks, restrictions for outdoor gatherings, etc) and how it has given rise to the over-policing of racially minoritised groups in the UK.

The event is open to all members of the community and food & drink will be provided. All testimonies will be kept completely anonymous. You can find out more about Co-POWeR in the link here. Tickets are free and available via our events section and can also be ordered directly via Eventbrite. We look forward to seeing you on the 23rd!

Bloody Criminal

By John Pegram, Bristol Copwatch founder, and caseworker

From September 2017 when I was wrongfully arrested for ‘Assault PC’ during a counter march to the EDL front group “Gays against Sharia” In Bristol to the malicious prosecution and crown court appeal that occurred the following year to a Judicial review, a high court appeal as well as being targeted by another 3 police forces it’s fair to say a lot has happened when it comes to me and my tumultuous relationship with the police. Between you and me, we’ve never got on.

I spent many of my teenage years through to my mid-twenties in and out of trouble with Hampshire police. In fact, I was stopped and searched between the ages of 16 to 27 In fact, so regularly the police used to address me by my first name. Speaking to my mum about those years she tells me that at one point I was stopped and searched almost every day.

I may not have been an angel back then, but I wasn’t always a bloody criminal. My earliest memory of being stopped by the police in Hampshire was being told I fitted the description of a suspected burglar. When asked what he looked like I was told he was mixed race. My dad hit the roof.

“It’s because he’s black!” I can still hear him like it was yesterday. It was the first time I knew I was being racially profiled. The police used to stop me for everything from riding on the pavement (is this your mountain bike son?) to walking down the wrong stretch of road (you don’t look like you come from round here).

When I was drawn into a cycle and finally found myself sent to prison for drug dealing in a nightclub my barrister accused the courts of sentencing me disproportionately. I’d been fined, received community orders but the police had kept coming and it felt like they wanted to make an example of me.

My friends and family had warned me where it was heading but back then I was being stopped so much, I decided that rebelling and being everything, the police said I was, would prove a point. The thing was, I was never very good at breaking the law.

When I saw what was happening to my life and the impact I was having on my family and those who cared about me the most I made my changes and never looked back. I broke the cycle before the cycle broke me for good. Even after I got myself back on the straight and narrow the police still never left me alone. It took martial arts to enter my life to prove my bully wrong and that people, even us mixed black boys do change.

Stop and search the controversial police power” BBC 2019

I spent over 14 years with no convictions and had healed my life until September 2017 happened. I don’t regret taking a stand against a bunch of violent racists and I’d do it again if they came here tomorrow. In fact, after the wrongful conviction occurred in early 2018, I didn’t just appeal I carried on protesting. I think the following arrests that were then thrown out of court were a result of intelligence sharing.

I was arrested on a PACE search in London by BTP following the “Another world is possible” march in September of 2019 to protest the election of Boris Johnson whilst also fighting Avon and Somerset Police via a Judicial Review of the High court’s decision not to see my appeal to get the malicious “assault PC” conviction overturned.

This had followed a refusal to overturn the conviction in a crown court appeal the year before. The courts had ruled a verdict of “reckless conduct.” The case had become a civil matter and I was represented by Bindmans LLP. We won the JR and although the High court finally saw my appeal the wrongful conviction was upheld later that year. I’d made mistakes in the past but had never been convicted of something I hadn’t done.

The original “assault PC” case was a complex one so I won’t go into the ins and outs here but you can take a look at the High Court appeal on casemine here. I set a legal precedent If anything, I take some solace in that. Going back to the London arrest, the police had singled me out for a stop and search. I was the only person of colour in my group of friends. BTP claimed my Kubotan keyring was an offensive weapon.

They also said my face covering meant I was “equipped for theft” or by police logic no doubt preparing to steal hubcaps. The police threatened to put me “on the floor.” They timed how long it took me to call them racist in the van on the way to Islington police station.

When I did they cheered and claimed I had “broken the record.” At points the institutional racism of the police is as clear as day. The case was thrown out of the crown court due to a lack of evidence. (Kubotan keyrings are not a weapon per se. BTP sent mine back to me in the post.)

In November of 2019, I was in court again for an alleged section 14 breach countering a far-right march in Dewsbury. In fact, they weren’t just far-right they were Neo-Nazis hiding behind a “patriot” front group. I was arrested and taken off the street for standing on the wrong bit of pavement. This was also thrown out of court.

Comments were made by my solicitors that I was being targeted but I pressed onwards with my life and soaked up and outright ignored police and what seemed to be intelligence team harassment. In late 2021 I discovered the DPA breach that I am going to be fundraising to take legal action over.

The police admitted in court way back in 2018 that any contact with their officer who I was convicted of assaulting was “accidental” the court said it was “reckless.” I and my legal team knew it was a miscarriage of justice.

My PNC (Police National Computer) record shows the conviction despite now being spent as being the higher end of “Assault PC” not the lower end fine I received. Avon and Somerset Police state that I punched a cop in the face in the description of the event. If it happened, I would of received a custodial sentence. In fact, I’d still be in prison now.

Don’t get me wrong, any assault charge is not a good thing to have on your record. But it’s also not a good thing to allow altered or inaccurate data to sit on a national database for over 3 years. It’s the sort of information that comes up in intelligence briefings. It can influence decision-making right down to street level.

From 2018 to 2021 I was stopped several times by the police under various powers as well as harassed and surveilled. All these events have created trauma. I’ve drunk too much to cope, worn my heart on a sleeve with the wrong people, and buried my feelings so they can’t hurt me or anyone I care about ever again.

Most importantly I’ve kept fighting for justice. In the midst of all this, Bristol Copwatch was born, it is a community project and an independent police monitoring group that is for everyone. One thing I’ve come to understand is that the law is not meant to punish us forever even if the police want you to think it is.

I know that the police must abide by data protection legislation. To consistently harass and target anyone who takes a stand against their corrupt practices speaks volumes about community relationships with the police today. I’m living proof that people can change.

On the 2nd of February, I launch my CrowdJustice fundraiser to take legal action against Avon and Somerset Police over a 2018 DPA breach that has resulted in over 2 years of harassment. I’ve also complained to the ICO.

My PNC data must reflect the court’s finding of reckless conduct. Bindmans LLP will represent me and will issue a letter of claim to the police when funding is in place. (It’s tricky to get legal aid for data breaches at the best of times and unfortunately not eligible for this one which is why I am fundraising.)

I want to get my data rectified and seek compensation for the breach and the distress and trauma the police have created. Standing with me means winning with me. I know that I am not alone, and my story is yet another tale of racially and politically motivated misconduct by the police in Bristol.

It is unlawful for the police to target us based on previous criminal history. It’s unlawful but the police are vindictive, malicious, institutionally racist and must be held to account. I can see you, and this time around I really hope you can see me. Until there is justice, there can never be any peace.

Canteen culture, killers and kidnappers: The Great British Police force.

By Sophie Macaroni

Content/trigger warning: male on female violence, racism, sexual violence and police brutality.

The brutal kidnapping and destruction of Sarah Everard by PC Wayne Couzens has been a high profile case. Initially a social media campaign, and then a terrifying news story which provoked the mainstream press to briefly hold a magnifying glass up to the Met. Responses from Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick were abysmal, referring to Couzens as “a bad’un”; as if he was a troubled scruffy thing who had a habit of stealing Lucozade from the local offie, rather than a bloodthirsty police officer with a categorical history of abusing women and feminine presenting people.

Sarah Everard’s story is desperately sad, preventable, and enraging. It captured the minds and hearts of the nation throughout the earliest lockdown period, and once more recently during the unfolding of the criminal case. I wish it were as much of a freak happening as the police officers who spoke publicly on the matter claimed. In reality, Sarah’s case was seized upon to sell papers because she fit the bill of someone who the tabloids love to tell the gruesome tales of demise about.

The term used to describe this, as heartless as it sounds, is missing white woman syndrome. Whiteness, class, income, appearance, marital status, sexuality – all of these things are reasons why the press talk about victims of violent crime in a different way than their counterparts, and indeed, why some people get more police time than others. Another woman was found dead in unexplained circumstances in the same year as Sarah – Blessing Olusegun.

Blessing was a 21 year old business student from London in Bexhill for a care job. The last contact anyone had from her were text messages late at night asking people to stay on the phone with her while she went for a walk. The next morning she was found dead on the beach with her shoes and phone piled nearby. Her mother has repeatedly requested the police do their jobs and tell her what happened to her daughter.

A petition with over 8000 signatures has been signed urging the police to do so. Sussex police have released a lengthy statement professing that institutional racism has played no part in their investigation, but the stark difference in the media response as well as level of forensic investigations between the cases of Blessing Olsegun and Sarah Everard, is unmistakable. 

‘Under fire: The shooting of Mrs Cherry Groce’ Kimathi Donkor 2005

Police violence isn’t a new issue, especially in communities of working class people of colour. Cherry Groce, a Jamaican mother of six children, was shot by metropolitan police in her own home on the 28th September 1985. The police were looking for her son, who they did not find, and entered the property by force. The shooting would leave Cherry paralysed and wheelchair bound until her death in 2011. Douglas Lovelock, the officer who shot her, was prosecuted, but acquitted. The shooting would spark the demonstration that became the 1985 Brixton riot

Just days later, on October 5 1985, Cynthia Jarrett died of a heart attack during a police raid on her home in Broadwater Farm, Tottenham. Four officers searched the property after wrongfully arresting her son, Floyd Jarrett. Her daughter Patricia claimed she saw one of the officers, DC Randle, push her mother to the floor during the incident but he has always denied this. No police officer has ever been charged or disciplined for their part in the death of Cynthia Jarrett.

Sarah Reed was a woman who received abuse at the hands of the police horrible enough to turn anyone’s stomach. In 2012 she was falsely arrested and assaulted by PC James Kiddie who broke two of her ribs and beat her viciously. Caught on CCTV, Kiddie was convicted of common assault and dismissed from the police force. His punishment? 150 hours of community service.

Sarah, who had been suffering with mental health problems since the death of her baby, was later arrested and charged with GBH whilst in a psychiatric unit. Some reports say that her alleged act of GBH was in fact self defence when sexually assaulted by another patient. She was held in remand in Holloway Prison and her condition deteriorated due to a complete failure by the prison to provide the necessary medication and care for Sarah.

She was found dead on January 11, 2016. The prison would not allow her family to see her body for three days, despite telling them she had died. Marylin Reed, Sarah’s mother, has said that at one point it felt as if a prison officer was laughing at them, and that the prison ignored her attempts to support her daughter’s health before her sad death.

These are not the only women. There are many, many others. I will not include their names here not out of a lack of respect, but because I am tired of seeing articles with lists of names racked up. We run the risk when we write these lists of taking all authenticity from the individuals and rendering them to statistics and arguments. I am tired of seeing dead women on television dramas, beautiful, lifeless, glamorised, dead bodies.

We have a bizarre sickness in our patriarchal culture of both normalising violence against women and using it to sensationalize and sell news and art. If the Police are here to protect and serve, why then, are they not committed to tackle this issue? I implore you to look further into the individual stories of the women and other people senselessly abused by members of the British police forces: the internet is awash with information.

And then there is the unendingly disturbing issue of spycops. Undercover police officers deployed to gain intelligence on activist groups, largely anarchist/animal rights/protest groups. Somehow gaining intelligence, to these officers of the law, in practice meant getting into sexual and romantic relationships with women activists under false pretences. If you entirely lie about your identity and intentions to a sexual partner, that’s not consensual sex. It’s rape.

In some of these abusive relationships the officers even had children with the women. Kate Wilson has been fighting a legal battle for the last ten years, recently it was ruled by the high court that the metropolitan police are responsible for a “formidable list” of human rights violations. This is a rare victory in an ongoing grim war.

So lots of police officers treat women terribly while on the job, but what about when they’re not working, I (don’t) hear you ask? Perhaps they hang up their hats after a long difficult day but are good fathers and husbands? On the contrary, one woman every week comes forward to report their partner who works as a policeman as seriously abusing them – or their children. The allegations are not taken seriously or followed up. Does our state automatically grant those who work as police officers diplomatic immunity to abuse women and children?

And what of women who work in the police force themselves? Surely these women are safer from their colleagues, exempt from prejudice as one of the team? Apparently not. A female former superintendent has recently told radio 4 that the met is ‘very racist and misogynistic’ and that female officers are afraid to report incidents because they will be met with male officers ignoring their calls for back-up in violent incidents going forward, leaving the female officers deliberately to suffer as much violence as possible.

Whilst incredibly disturbing, this information isn’t really too surprising when we consider the fact it’s now common knowledge that Couzen’s colleagues nicknamed him “the rapist”. Matthew Scott, Kent Police’s chief constable and police and crime commissioner states on their website that “We will be there when the public need us and we will act with integrity in all that we do.” Apparently integrity, to Matthew Scott (who’s salary is £75,000) is casually allowing sexual predators to not only go unchecked, but be given power, weapons, and access to vulnerable people as part of their work.

Bristol Copwatch expresses its unending solidarity and sorrow with the families and friends of all affected by police violence. We urge all readers to challenge misogynistic attitudes and abuse wherever you can safely do so. The road is long and very difficult but please do not think that as individuals or small communities we cannot effect any change, because we most certainly can, and moreover, we have to.