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Schoolgirl arrest video prompts backlash over ‘heavy-handed policing’ of young in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 15:17 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 18:42 25 October 2016

Grandmother Joan Whittaker has launched a complaint against the police after her granddaughter Katelynn Murphy King, aged 13, was handcuffed and restrained

Grandmother Joan Whittaker has launched a complaint against the police after her granddaughter Katelynn Murphy King, aged 13, was handcuffed and restrained

Archant

The borough’s top police officer is due to face a community backlash over the force’s treatment of young people - after a shocking video emerged this week showing a Pc manhandling a schoolgirl.

A still from video footage showing Katelynn Murphy King being physically restrained by a male police officer outside Wapping High School A still from video footage showing Katelynn Murphy King being physically restrained by a male police officer outside Wapping High School

Green Spring Academy pupil Katelynn Murphy King is seen being dragged across the pavement “like a piece of meat” while her hands are cuffed in the video footage.

The teenager suffered bruises to her knees and torso and her family have complained to police.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, described the video as “clearly disturbing” and urged the force to listen to the community’s concerns.

Katelynn’s grandmother Joan Whittaker, 51, said: “This policeman wasn’t tackling a grown man, this was a little girl of 13. It was extreme force and it absolutely was not justified.”

It comes after a video last week showed a 26-year-old youth worker at the Arbour Youth Centre in Stepney being physically restrained and arrested outside his workplace.

The cases, which are both under investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards, have left some sections of the community concerned about police treatment of young people.

Katelynn Murphy King's knees were left bruised and badly swollen after she was dragged along on her knees by a police officer Katelynn Murphy King's knees were left bruised and badly swollen after she was dragged along on her knees by a police officer

Ex-councillor Abdal Ullah, who sat on the Metropolitan Police Authority as an independent member with special responsibility for policing in Tower Hamlets, said: “I think the reason why people are very worried is this new trend of behaviour of officers against young people.

“It seems like the police are using heavy-handed tactics against youngsters in the borough. The people that are most at risk and vulnerable feel they can’t now turn to police because of harassment and brutality.”

Police borough commander Sue Williams is due to face questions at a public meeting at Queen Mary University tonight.

Schoolgirl Katelynn was restrained after rowing with a 16-year-old outside Wapping High School on October 5.

The other girl had allegedly goaded her and called her “a slag” before trying to kick her.

Miss Whittaker, of Chambord Street, Bethnal Green, said: “It was just two kids having a dispute and the policeman went too far.

Katelynn Murphy King also had bruising and grazes on her arms and torso Katelynn Murphy King also had bruising and grazes on her arms and torso

“He came up behind my granddaughter. She didn’t know he was there and he restrained her on the ground.

“She tries to get up and he just drags her like a piece of meat.

“I think it’s really important that the whole thing is made public. It was very excessive.”

Police confirmed they were called to reports of a disturbance and arrested a 13-year-old girl on suspicion of affray and breach of the peace.

She was later de-arrested for both offences. Enquiries are ongoing.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said the videos raised “serious public concerns” about techniques being used by police.

He said: “It is clearly disturbing to see a girl as young as 13 being arrested like this. The police need to be able to act forcefully on occasion but that should clearly be an exception.

“Together with the events recently in Stepney the risk is that public confidence in fair and proportionate treatment is undermined.

“I would urge the police to listen to and address the community anxieties which have been expressed recently.”

* The Resident’s Question Time meeting with the police borough commander will be held at the Fogg Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University, Mile End Road, E1 4NS, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm tonight (Wednesday, October 19)

* Watch the full video footage here: Police restrain Bethnal Green schoolgirl, 13, ‘like piece of meat’

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