Park race hate probe after 'cold' response from Met Police

Picnic at Waterlow Park 3

Waterlow Park - Credit: Archant

Two women who claim to have been on the receiving end of racial abuse have criticised the "cold" and "dismissive" initial response from Metropolitan Police.

The pair have described being victims to slurs over separate incidents in Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, earlier this month and were disappointed with the force’s response.

Met Police is investigating and has said that all alleged hate crimes will be taken seriously.

Anna*, 22, a Finsbury Park journalist, said she was walking through the park on the evening of September 7 with her boyfriend when a man shouted racist slurs at her and then followed her for 15 minutes. 

Though Anna said she is glad she reported the crime so it appears on official records, she claims what she witnessed at the station made her feel the crime she reported was not valid.  

Anna said: “They kept getting my name wrong and did not seem familiar with the area as they kept asking me if I meant Waterloo when I said Waterlow Park.

“They also had to print out the statement four times because each time they showed it to me it had factual and grammatical errors.”

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She added: “They were just extremely cold – it took them an hour to even say: 'I’m sorry this happened to you.' 

“One of them also said I was unlucky because this kind of thing rarely happens and when I told him it had happened to me in the recent past and I was worried it would happen again he said it sounded like the man was just unwell and would probably not do it again.”

On September 17, solicitor Grace*, 43, from Highbury, said she was walking through the park with her husband to pick up their son from nursery when a man shouted racist abuse at her for a second time in three weeks. 

She said: “I am constantly looking over my shoulder now and was in tears when I walked by the park this morning. 

“It’s gone from a space I enjoy to somewhere I am scared to be in. I’ve been sending emails every evening to whoever I can – this is what the police should be doing.”

She reported the incidents to the police online the next day but did not hear from them for 11 days.

Anna and Grace believe the crimes were carried out by the same man and have photos of him taken from a distance that they showed to the police, but were left frustrated at their initial inaction. 

Anna said: “They sent me an email with a link to use if I was not contacted after seven days about my case. But this link doesn’t even work - it says the web page doesn’t exist.

“Two local police did contact me to offer support but they said they weren’t involved in the case so couldn’t help with it.”

A policeman called Grace on September 29 to say the force would be taking action but the force told this newspaper no arrest has been made yet.

Grace said: “I am relieved and the policeman I spoke to was definitely taking it seriously and not being dismissive as they were in Anna’s case. I’m just sorry she had that experience when she first reported the crime.”

She added: “He said there are a number of reports about this guy and he can’t believe he got away with it for so long. I said I wanted him prosecuted and was told he won’t get away with it.”

There have been more than 930 recorded race and religious hate crimes in Camden borough in the past year.

The Met Police has said they are investigating alleged hate crime incidents. CCTV inquiries are ongoing and the suspect has been described as a "skinny white man". 

The force said in a statement: “We want to assure anyone who may have been a victim of hate crime that we will respond and take robust action wherever possible.

“The Met does not tolerate any form of discrimination or abuse. The Met is committed to working with partners, such as MOPAC, TruVision, Tell Mama, Galop and Inclusion London, to robustly tackle hate crime.

“Anyone in London who is a victim of a hate crime is asked to report it to the police via 101 or tweeting @MetCC. Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online, or via the TruVision website: https://www.report-it.org.uk/.”

*Names changed to protect anonymity

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