Discriminated British academic hits out at IPCC
Man falsely accused of fare evasion at St Pancras station
A London Green party officer is calling on the Independent Police Complaints Commission to review its procedures after it refused to investigate his experience of discrimination at St Pancras station.
British Asian Dr Shahrar Ali was falsely accused of fare evading by an “intimidatory” UK Borders Agency officer when returning from abroad last August.
He immediately filed a complaint of serious misconduct to the UKBA and the IPCC but both bodies failed to investigate – a situation he later found out was a regular occurrence.
A Freedom of Information request found that of 113 serious misconduct complaints made by the public to the UKBA in 2009, only six were “substantiated”, while none of the four public complaints made to the IPCC resulted in any intervention.
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“I was coming back on the Eurostar and was pulled away to be asked some trivial questions and have my bag searched,” he explained. “That all happened without incident.
“The officer that was doing this then sought to carry out further checks. He said that I fitted the description of somebody who had boarded the train and had been suspected of fare evasion even though I had a valid ticket.
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“He went away to speak to a few officers and then came back and said he was going to let me go but he knew I had done it.
“I was incredulous. What is his business finding no fault with the ticket but then at the same time acting like some kind of jury and accusing me of being a liar and a cheat?
“I said I wanted to report him so asked for his name but he wouldn’t give it to me.
“Then he said if I continued he would carry out more checks and get more police over which I found threatening and intimidating.
“At that point I was quite concerned and didn’t want to hang around any longer so I left.
“Once I got onto the station concourse I spoke to the British Transport Police and they said the fare evader had already been apprehended in Ebbsfleet.”
That evening Dr Ali complained to both the UKBA and IPCC who said it was not in its jurisdiction to look into it – a decision it later reversed before concluding it wasn’t going to investigate.
“The IPCC is clearly not fulfilling its role to investigate UKBA misconduct,” he said.
“The UKBA is not investigating itself properly and the IPCC, whose role is to investigate complaints, is not doing its job either.
“I am a British citizen and I have the right to enter my country without this sort of hassle.”
Jenny Jones, Green Assembly Member and Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: “I have written to the IPCC regarding Dr Ali’s case, which is extremely concerning and must be investigated promptly and judiciously.
“Instead, it appears that the stonewalling he has witnessed, not only compounds the original misdemeanour of the officer, but is indicative of a wider problem about the IPCC’s fitness for purpose.”
A UKBA spokesman claimed Dr Ali “travelled to the UK without a properly validated train ticket” and that this was why he was intercepted at St Pancras station and “asked to prove he had a right to enter the UK.”
The spokesman continued: “UK Border Agency staff were professional and courteous while they carried out their duties, investigating these irregularities.
“Every day thousands of passengers travel through St Pancras, the overwhelming majority of whom never have to make use of our rigorous complaints procedures.”
An IPCC spokeswoman said Dr Ali’s complaint hadn’t met the mandatory referral criteria so the IPCC couldn’t consider the appeal.