IRR News 17 June – 1 July 2020


IRR News 17 June – 1 July 2020

Fortnightly Bulletin

Written by: IRR News Team


Policing and Detention – time to take stock

Dear IRR News subscriber,

If you suddenly move hundreds of extremely vulnerable people, en masse, together in vans, out of safe, self-contained flats where they could cook for themselves, giving them less than an hour’s notice, to shared accommodation in hotels where social distancing is impossible, at the same time withdrawing their £5.39 per day living allowance, cutting them off from phone lifelines – tragedy is very likely to follow. The asylum seeker shot dead after the multiple stabbing at Park Inn, Glasgow, run as an asylum hostel by Mears during the pandemic, is not the first to die after suffering severe mental health deterioration in this situation; Syrian refugee Adnan Olbeh died in early May at another asylum hotel. Charities and migrant support groups such as Positive Action in Housing warned for months of the dangers of this ‘hotel detention’.

Regular readers of IRR News will know John Grayson’s regular reports bearing witness to the misery and anguish of those shoved around the asylum ‘support’ system, abandoned in overcrowded hostels or in rat- and bedbug-infested, insanitary flats. This week he continues his investigations in ‘Abandoned Voices from the UK asylum system in a time of Covid-19’.

In our calendar of racism and resistance we continue to document the Black Lives Matter Protests across the UK and Europe as well as highlighting several cases which raise serious concerns around policing – including the emergence of footage of an 18-year-old black man being kneed in the face during a stop and search by two officers in Hackney, and the arrest of two Met police officers for allegedly circulating images of the bodies of two murdered sisters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, on a Whatsapp group. Listen to IRR director Liz Fekete and Dr Adam Eliott-Cooper of the Monitoring Group discuss Black Lives Matter, policing and the criminal justice system amidst the backdrop of Covid-19 as part of a recent Crime and Justice webinar. They ask, what does defunding the police look like in practice?

Covid-19 has thrown into relief many key issues – the frailty of capitalism, the potential for the state to control life and death, the nature of solidarity. The July issue of Race & Class, now online, reflects on these key issues, including a crucial piece on ‘biometric bureaucracy as imperial control’ that looks at the medical age assessments of young asylum seekers in Denmark and a discussion on ‘Coercion and compliance’ in the hostile environment. Read a press release here, and email us to register to buy a print-copy of the issue once it is back from the printers.

IRR News team

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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