Former chair Claudia Webbe says the Met told former members they 'were no longer welcome'
Written by Trudy Simpson
08/02/2013 02:14 PM
CONTROVERSIAL TACTIC: Stop and search
OFFICIALS AT the Metropolitan Police barred former members of Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG) without giving them any notice, the founder and former chair claims.
Claudia Webbe told the Voice the IAG, born out of pressure from the black community, was replaced without consultation with community members who had longed held police accountable.
This is despite 10 years of working with the police to build community trust, prevent and reduce gun crime and to ensure police adequately investigate shootings when they happen.
Webbe said: “On Wednesday 6th February without notice or warning, when the Trident IAG turned up for its meeting at New Scotland Yard they were told they were no longer welcome that it had be replaced by a group of individuals who were a) nominated by the borough police teams and b) nominated through the organisations whom the MPS contracts with to deliver gang related work ie The Prince's Trust, Capital Conflict Management and St Giles Trust etc) and further that the police would determine the agenda and chair those meetings itself.”
She added: “Furthermore that this new panel would only interact with the Head of Trident at Detective Chief Superintendent level when before it the Independent Advisory Group had the likes of Cressida Dick and others at senior levels within New Scotland Yard attending its meetings and providing accountability on behalf of the Commissioner.”
CRITICISM: Claudia Webbe
She concluded: “Never before in the history of Trident has the police chaired meetings of the Trident Independent Advisory Group - that is not independence and does not even come close to such.”
Trident, which previously worked with ethnic communities to prevent or investigate shootings affecting black communities, became the Met police’s lead Gang Crime Command Unit in February last year.
Its work came from community pressure following the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which branded the police force institutionally racist over the way it handled the investigation into the black teenager’s racist 1993 murder.
A revamped Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG) was unveiled this week. Webbe said the new group, “hand picked” by the Met, undermines the group’s previous independence, risks undoing 10 years of work done among black communities and could further alienate them.
Webbe warned that the Met’s scrapping of the previous community influenced Trident group is the latest in a series of changes that have involved the “whittling away of independent scrutiny, accountability and critical challenge of the Trident OCU’s operation and effectiveness.”
She said:“What the police are proposing is a top down approach and their method and process for achieving this has damage the very foundations and core of police race relations.”
The Met did not respond to the Voice’s email asking for a comment about the reported lack of notice given to the previous members of the IAG.
CHALLENGED: The Metropolitan Police
However, in a statement yesterday (Feb 7), a Met spokesperson said the new independent advisory group reflected Trident’s wider mandate to tackle gang crime and prevent and investigate all shootings in London, regardless of the victim's background.
The spokesperson said: “…Although Trident's remit has since changed...Community engagement remains at the core of Trident and as such our IAG continues to play a fundamental part in how we engage with London's communities.
"Since the new command was launched in February 2012, it has become clear that our IAG needed to be more representative of the communities that we serve.
"Therefore the new Trident IAG, launched this week, now comprises a community member nominated from each of the 18 Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) boroughs in London, together with specific representatives of young people, including representation from the Safer London Foundation 'Young Ambassador' forum.
"The group also includes representatives from the St Giles Trust, the Princes Trust and various youth, faith and community groups from across the capital.
"We know that to tackle gang crime effectively we need the assistance of London's communities - it is only with their help that we can bring offenders to justice and to protect young people.”