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“Our regret is that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied.”
The relationship with the Police and people of colour never started on a good foot. In Southern America, 1903, white men were employed to ‘police’ the streets to preserve the slave system. Their main role would be patrolling the streets looking for runaway slaves.
This relationship has not improved and has taken on different forms throughout the years both in the US and the UK.
There are many instances of injustice throughout British history which evidences the police force exerting their power to convict innocent black males.
With black people considered guilty before trial, they were predominantly being convicted on the word of the policeman and minimal evidence,
Cases where black males have been wrongfully convicted have recently been retried and as there isn’t any supporting evidence, the charges are being dropped.
In London, 1972, six men were charged with assault and in an attempt to rob on a London underground train. They were ‘caught’ and arrested by the late Det Sgt Derek Ridgewell of the British Transport Police (BTP).
It is now known that Ridgewell was a frequent accuser of black males and convicted them on suspect charges.
“His practice, which led to many convictions, was to confront young black men at underground stations, accusing them of theft and then attribute incriminating remarks to them. If they resisted arrest, they were also accused of assaulting the police.”
In the 1972 court case at the Old Bailey, Ridgwell fabricated a tale of events describing the aggressive actions of the defendants. Although all 6 defendants plead not guilty, 5 were sentenced while the 6th, Everett Mullins was acquitted.
The case was re-investigated in 1973 and concluded that Ridgewell’s tale was untrue. However, the convicted males still had this stain next to their name.
Following this re-investigation, the Criminal Cases Review Commission started reviews on all of Ridgewell’s cases. This included the case of The Stockwell Six, and in 2019, four of the men, now dubbed The Oval Four had their convictions quashed.
The lord chief justice, Lord Burnett, told them: “Our regret is that it has taken so long for this injustice to be remedied.”