Statement: Police Operation in Ashwin Street

Green Party Dalston Ward Councillor; Zoë Garbett 

I condemn the action taken by the police in Dalston yesterday (14 May).

I was present from 18:45 where I spoke with riders, the union supporting riders (Independent Workers of Great Britain, IWGB), the police and members of the community/protesters.

The  operation including about 20 police officers intended to tackle moped-related crime ranging from anti-social behaviour, driving without a proper license to mopeds being stolen and resold.

One rider was asked about their immigration status and reportedly arrested. Activists were already on scene and attempted to prevent this. The situation escalated quickly with, at its height, about 100 police in attendance with multiple clashes between the protesters and the police.

The police were pursuing and arresting people. I witnessed the police forcefully pushing  people and throwing them to the ground or out the way and using batons to hit people. It felt incredibly unsafe and threatening particularly with the police charging into the crowd and at individuals. There was a lot of disruption and distress caused for residents living, shopping and working in the area.

I did not see and there did not appear to be any attempts by the police to de-escalate the situation.

As restaurants in the area closed for a short period and the delivery apps temporarily paused in the area, this stopped riders being able to work which severely impacted the money they were able to earn (during a usually busy Saturday evening).  

The couriers are a vital part of our economy and need to be able to carry out their work in a dignified and safe way. I have been working closely with IWGB and the riders in Ashwin Street to support their calls for better working conditions. The approach taken by the police was disproportionate and inflammatory. The riders feel harassed by police fearing further disruption to their work, unsupported by the delivery apps and mistreated by the restaurants they serve.

As a member of the community, I have been working with the police, community leaders and businesses in Dalston to re-establish the Dalston Police Ward Forum. This has included IWGB. We had our initial meeting in April where we reviewed the Safer Neighbourhood Team’s current priorities and the community spoke about distrust in the police, the police inflaming/escalating situations and how the current priorities target people of colour and lowest paid workers. 

With this event coming after horrendous incidents such as Child Q, I will be working with council colleagues to question how the police are serving the people of Hackney.

I will be:

  • seeking to meet with the police, with IWGB, to question this disproportionate use of force,  raise our concerns about the wider approach being taken to riders in Ashwin Street and to ensure this approach is not taken again 
  • asking Mayor Glanville to condemn the action taken by the police and working to make sure the council is holding the police to account 
  • supporting the re-establishment of the Dalston Police Ward Forum as a place for the community to scrutinise the police and set appropriate priorities which are agreed with the community
  • continuing to support IWGB and the riders in action that they take to improve working conditions.