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Police under investigation over alleged failures to obey coronavirus distancing rules

PUBLISHED: 09:12 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:12 08 April 2020

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Picture: Archant.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Picture: Archant.

Archant

Police in Haringey are under internal investigation over allegations they “showed flagrant disregard” for social distancing rules.

Ian McLarty, of McLarty's Solicitors, has filed a formal complaint over incidents at Wood Green police station. Picture: McLarty's Solicitors.Ian McLarty, of McLarty's Solicitors, has filed a formal complaint over incidents at Wood Green police station. Picture: McLarty's Solicitors.

The Met’s professional standards department is probing claims that coronavirus measures were repeatedly breached at Wood Green police station.

The complaint was filed by Walthamstow legal firm McLarty’s Solicitors.

Ian McLarty gathered statements from lawyers who reported encountering unsafe conditions at the station for more than a week. He urged investigators to seize CCTV to corroborate the accounts.

A female solicitor said she was left in a confined area with six people, some of whom were coughing. When a detainee complained about the lack of social distancing, she said “the staff just laughed”.

The Met Police confirmed its internal standards department was investigating the allegations against Wood Green's custody department. Picture: Met Police.The Met Police confirmed its internal standards department was investigating the allegations against Wood Green's custody department. Picture: Met Police.

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One lawyer was sent to meet a man who had been in self-isolation when he was arrested, as a member of his household had covid-19 symptoms. He said he was expected to consult the client in a noisy cell where they could not hear one another if they were more than one metre apart.

Another solicitor said he was denied a phone call with a client on grounds that no officers were available to supervise, “as half the staff were off sick due to the coronavirus”. Yet at the station later that day, he said he saw around 20 police officers “a short distance apart”, with no protective equipment besides gloves.

Mr McLarty said when he raised concerns, an officer “screamed” at him down the phone.

He said: “Wood Green police station seems to think it is exempt from government advice. All Met Police interview rooms breach the two-metre rule. And we’re talking about people arrested on suspicion of totally low-level crimes. Ironically, one had been arrested for allegedly breaching the government advice.”

A Met spokesperson said: “The Metropolitan Police has received a complaint relating to the custody suite at Wood Green police station.

“The complaint was made on Friday, April 3, by a solicitor, to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and relates both to the conduct of staff and concerns over the protection of visitors from covid-19. The matter has been passed to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards.”


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