Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Its the 3rd anniversary of the untimely and utterly preventable death of Ian Taylor whilst in Met Police custody. A call to action.

Today the 29th of June 2022 marks the third anniversary of the tragic death of yet another London Black man at the hands of the Metropolitan Police Service whose last words were a premonition of the exact words used by George Floyd a year later “I can’t breathe”   


Just to jog your memory on this same day in 2019, the mercurial Lil Naz was breaking the internet with his new country hip hop Old Town Road tune.  Donald Trump Jr tweeted and then deleted that the then-Senator Kamala Harris now Vice President wasn’t black because of her Jamaican Indian heritage. 


And on the world-famous Coldharbour Lane, Brixton South London a 54-year-old Rasta and reggae musician lay dying on what was slowly suffocating on the hottest day of the year. 54-year-old Black man Ian Taylor died in horrific circumstances surrounded by seven officers on Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, South London.  

Lambeth is in a bad way. 

Disgracefully, Lambeth in terms of policing has the highest rates of race disproportionality and race complaints in London. We also have one of the highest rates of stop searches, and alarmingly, according to the Met's own figures and Lambeth has the lowest level of Black public trust and confidence of any borough in London. 


You’re unlikely to have heard of the case of Ian Taylor after some research I believe the Police, the London and local press and others conspired to ensure that there was, what was in effect, a complete media blackout at the time. The reason for this should be obvious. The Police believed that had the circumstances of Ian’s death been known at the time there would have been public outrage and may have caused widespread civil disturbances if known at the time.


The London Evening Standard reporting at the time said Ian died following a fight. That was a lie 


Why was no one briefed? 

I have asked a range of senior politicians and some MP’s whether the Met briefed them at the time of Ian’s death in 2019, and all those asked have told me that they knew nothing about this case and they were not briefed by Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove. I have subsequently written to Mr Wingrove asking for a full audit of precisely who was briefed about Ian’s death at the time. Suffice to say I’m still waiting. 


If no elected representative or community representative were briefed, including the Leader of Lambeth local council, local MP’s, and The Mayor's Office by the Met then this represents a most serious subversion of democratic accountability and an attempt by the Met to manipulate the media. 

Inhumane treatment. 

As a black community, we know that one of the most insidious aspects of institutional racism in policing is that officers view Black people as less than human. Time and time again we see powerful evidence of how the culture of police racism promotes dangerous stereotypes situating any black person as capable of serious violence regardless of age, circumstance, or gender. 


The culture of racism is not only malignant it is socially contagious and regularly attempts to rationalise the inexplicable. How many times has a video emerged that shows racist sometimes violent policing where the Met has offered an analysis that bears no resemblance to the real reality we can see on screen? Such is the overwhelming power of racism 


That’s why we consistently see policing incident after incident being captured on video. 


The truth is that London sees violent arrests of black people daily. The lack of compassion can be witnessed by the sickening abuse of sisters Nichole and Bibba, the brutal treatment of Child Q, and the violent arrest of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Stockwell recently and it doesn’t stop there. 


Wherever a culture of racism exists misogyny and homophobia are never far behind. The cases of Sarah Everard and Stephen Portman provide vivid evidence of the toxic reality of institutional discrimination that is fully established as an informal but all too powerful core cultural value of the Met.  It used to be canteen culture, now its mainstream culture. 


And these are not isolated incidents, they reflect the reality of institutional racism that leads to the industrial dehumanisation of black people, and because officers know that over the last decade less than 3% of racism complaints against the police were upheld, they act with arrogant impunity These are figures one would expect to see in the despotic regimes of Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Kim Jong-un’s North Korea.

Failure to tackle institutional racism. 

Met Commissioners Cressida Dick, her predecessor Bernard Hogan-Howe and Boris Johnson's eight years as Mayor of London's collective failure to tackle racism have been catastrophic. The cumulative effect positively reinforces the racist behaviour of officers, who tend towards using either overwhelming force or underwhelming compassion when dealing with black Londoners. 

Whether as victims of crime or suspects the toxic culture means that Black people are rarely believed by police officers. In the Met there exists a powerful culture of doubt and disbelief that drives officers’ behaviour. 


Today the sheer scale and depth of this crisis are confirmed with the news that the Met has been put into special measures by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.  

A dog would've received better treatment. 

Let’s be clear here regarding Ian, a badly injured dog would have been treated with more compassion by these officers. There is no doubt in my mind that had a badly injured dog been found by officers that dog would have received more compassion than Ian received. The dog would have been taken straight to a local vet in a heartbeat, the cold stone reality of this culture of police racism was that Ian was left to die. 

Police Bodycam. 

Police body cam footage shown at Ian’s recent Inquest shows Ian in handcuffs, lying on the streets telling officers that his airways were closing. Ian was an acute Asthma sufferer and would often need his inhaler to help him breathe.  Officers looked for his inhaler but failed to find it they then began mocking and laughing at Ian as he begged for his handcuffs to be taken off and be taken to the hospital. 


Even though the Officers were fully aware that the Ambulance had been delayed they simply refused to take Ian to a nearby hospital. Ian is seen repeatedly begging for his life. On one of the hottest days of the year, in 34-degree heat whilst officers are sharing bottles of water not one of the Officers offered him a drink.  At his Inquest dehydration was cited as a contributory cause of death. 


He says he's can't breathe....blah, blah blah.

Another police officer can be seen telling his sergeant that Mr Taylor was “playing the old ‘poor me’ card”. Six minutes before Mr Taylor went into cardiac arrest, he reported that Mr Taylor was, “saying he’s got chest pains, he can’t breathe, blah blah blah, it’s all a load of nonsense, but there we go”.


After 25 mins officers moved him out of the sun into the back of a Police car where Ian was told that were no ambulances and that he should grow up. Five minutes later Ian had a massive cardiac arrest, officers gave him CPR, but Ian was declared dead in hospital. 

Alliance for Police Accountability. (APA) 

As Chair of the soon-to-be-launched Alliance for Police Accountability, we intend to conduct the first national consultation with Black communities in five cities in England and Wales over the next two years. The aim of this consultation is to co-produce a National Black Policing and Anti Violence, Public Health Public Charters that will set out the high-level strategic demands of policing reform and ask the question of what the black community sees as our responsibility to tackle the rise of serious violence. 


Lambeth meeting. 

On Thursday 7th July at 6.30 pmLambeth Assembly Hall, Lambeth Town Hall we will meet to hold Lambeth Police to account for the death of Ian Taylor.  

You need to book your place online here in advance. 


The meeting will give the community the opportunity to hear the detail of what happened to Ian and you can put your questions directly to Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove and local Lambeth politicians. 


We will also be joined by Marcia Rigg Chair of the United Friends and Family Campaign and sister of Sean Rigg who died in Lambeth police custody in 2008. UFFC is a solidarity and support network of families who have suffered deaths in police and prison custody.

Social media shadow ban protical is full effect. 

The information about this event is being suppressed with shadow bans on social media and deep reluctance by anyone other than the Voice Newspaper covering this story. What that means s we need your help to break the silence. Please promote and share articles and share the flyers across your social media. 

Use hashtags #Justice4IanTaylor #BlackLivesMatterUK  #DeathsInPoliceCustody 

Last word...


I leave the last word to Ian Taylor’s Aunt, Pauline Taylor, recounting Ian's last words caught on video:

“‘I need my inhaler…I can’t breathe…I’m dying.’ These were the last pleading words of my nephew. He died on the street begging for help, not from just one, but seven police officers who casually dismissed his pleas and even went so far as to laugh and mock him. What more could he have said in those moments to solicit help and simple humane compassion from those who are sworn to serve and protect. 


What has been learnt? One officer said that he would do exactly the same given the same set of circumstances…May God help us! Our family is broken, our pain wakes us each morning and steals into our dreams at night, but in trying to heal we recognise that the disclosures relating to Ian’s untimely and cruel death can be used as a tool to bring about better training, effective practice and holistic awareness and challenge the ugly existence of unbiased racism.”




Lambeth Police Service has the worst rates of police racism in London.

  Lambeth Police Race Statistics Briefing.


29th June 2021. 



This paper provides a summary picture outlining the publicly available data in relation to Lambeth Police Service and Lambeth’s Black and/or BAME communities.  For context, some additional national and regional figures are also included. 




The percentage of UK Black people aged 16 and over who had confidence in their local police, by ethnicity from 2017 to 2020 dropped from 76% to 64% [1]


The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has recently launched a Mayors Action Plan [2] focused on tackling the disproportionality of the Metropolitan use of police powers, improving trust and confidence among London African and Caribbean descent communities and consulting on improving police accountability. To help inform these discussions he has also launched a Mayors

Action Plan Dashboard[3] that provides access to key data in relation to trust, confidence and disproportionality.  

The Dashboard allows viewing of Met performance in relation to disproportionality and public perception in Lambeth in some detail

Only 46% of Black London residents think the police are doing a good [4] job. 

A study conducted by University College London published in the Guardian Newspaper in 2020 reported that all the stops and searches conducted by Metropolitan, City of London and British Transport Police officers on young Black males meant they were 19 times [5] more likely to be stopped and searched in London than white males.

Race complaints [6] against Metropolitan Police Officers have risen by 90% since 2018.  Of 7300 complaints made over the last nine years, only 59 (0-8%) were upheld.


Between April 2019 and March 2020 in London, there were 18 stops and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 71 for every 1,000 Black people. 


In 2019-20 the Met used restraint [7] 18 times on Black people for every 1,000 of the pop. For white people, restraint was used five times per 1,000 of the population.

Knife Crime in London. 

Met figures show [8] that in 2008 African and Caribbean victims of knife crime stood at 1,866 and rose to 2, 991by 2018.

White victims over the same period were 3,948 in 2208 rising to 5,281  in 2018.

Lambeth residents' perceptions of police. 

Across all public perception indicators [9] people’s opinions about Lambeth Police have worsened across all indicators. 

Lambeth residents express [13] the lowest level of public trust and confidence in London that Lambeth Police officers will treat them fairlyLambeth stops and searches. (S&S)

Stop & Search volumes from May 2019 [10] – May 2020 inclusive – 17,933, and Southwark – S&S volume May 2019 – May 2020 inclusive – 18,434

Positive outcome runs[11] at 24% meaning that 76% of stop and search results in No Further Action. (NFA) In Lambeth, that amounts to 25,000 people per year. being routinely stopped for no purpose.  

64.6% of those stopped and searched in the 12 months to April 2021 were Black, compared to 27.4% who were White and 5.1% Asian. 

In Lambeth, Black Individuals were 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched compared to White Individuals, with Asian individuals 1.7 times more likely to be stopped and searched. 


64.6% of those stopped and searched in Lambeth in the 12 months to April 2021 were Black, compared to 27.4% who were White and 5.1% Asian. 


S&S increased massively during the lockdown. 

The percentage of positive outcomes [12] ( an arrest was made) in relation to S&S in May 2021 was 5.1% the vast majority for drugs offences

White people are S&S [14] at a rate 22.5 per 1000 in Lambeth and Black people at a rate of 96 per 1000. 

Lambeth (5th) and Southwark (3rd) are both in the top 5 London[15] boroughs for stop and search. 

The consequence of being disproportionately policed is increased entry into the criminal justice system. 


The average prison sentence for Black people in 2009[16] was 20 months. For Whites, it was 15 months.[17]


By 2018 for Black people it had risen to 28 months and for Whites, it was 18 months.[18]

Lambeth Police Accountability Structures.

There are no public Black community public police accountability forums re policing in Lambeth.


·      The LIAG’s minutes are not publicly available, neither are its terms of reference, the method of joining the group, nor its full membership (other than Chair and Vice Chair) are not publicly known. 


·      Safer Lambeth Partnership Executive minutes are confidential and there is no transparency re genuine and authentic community accountability. 


·      Lambeth Safer Neighbourhood Board. The Mayor’s Office has accepted that SNB’s across London are not working and is wanting to consult re improved arrangements. 


·      Lambeth Stop and Search Monitoring Group no longer meets and is entirely dysfunctional. 






The Mayors Action Plan is timely. Lambeth Police need to enter genuine consultation with Lambeth’s black communities to co-produce new police accountability and anti-racist policing framework for Lambeth.  

[1] Confidence in local policing. Crime, justice, and the law. Ethnicity Facts and Figures. UK Government Published 12th May 2021. 

[2] Action Plan- Transparency, accountability and Trust in Policing. Mayors Office for Crime and Policing (MOPAC) published on 13th November 2020

[3] Mayors Action Plan Dashboard (MOPAC) Updated Q4 2021

[4] Mayors Office for Policing and Crime Public Voice Dashboard June 2021

[5] Young black males in London ’19 times more likely to be stopped and searched’ Guardian Newspaper published 3rd December 2020 

[6] Race Complaints Against Met Up 90% in two years. London Evening Standard. Published 4th June 2021 

[7] Met Police are four times more likely to use force on black people BBC News. Published 30th July 2020

[8] Ethnicity of people proceeded against and victim of knife crime Calendar Years 2008-20198 (up to 30-11-2018) Metropolitan Police Service. Freedom of Information request. Published by Met. police.UK 7th January 2019 

[9] Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime Public Voice Dashboard June 2021

[10] Search Volumes for Reporting Period: May 2019 to end of May 2021 Published by Met. police.UK May 2021

[11] Ibid (10) S&S R12 2021 Summary tab 

[12] Ibid (10) Outcomes Summary tab

[13] Ibid (1) Satisfaction Demographics

[14] Ibid ((6) Searches Demographics 

[15]  The London Boroughs are where you’re most likely to be stopped and searched by police. Published by MyLondon.News 16th May 2021

[16] The average length of custodial sentences. Published by Ministry of Justice 8th October 2020

[17] Ibid (11)

[18] Ibid (11)

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Rastaman Ian Taylor pleads for his life as Met Police officers laugh as he lay dying.

The inquest into the death of Ian Taylor, a 54-year-old black British man from Brixton, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest whilst being held by the Met Police, concluded on 19 May 2022.

A jury found that his medical cause of death was acute asthma and situational stress, alongside two underlying health conditions. Dehydration was also cited as a contributing factor. The jury also found that the Met’s assessment of the risk to Mr Taylor inadequate. The coroner is to refer one of the officers involved to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for further investigation. Mr Taylor’s family was represented by our Actions against Public Authorities solicitor 
Courtney Smith.

Mr Taylor pleaded for help as he became short of breath whilst under arrest on 29 June 2019. An ambulance was called but was severely delayed due to demand on the service at the time. Despite repeatedly telling the all-white police officers that he could not breathe and was going to die, Mr Taylor was left handcuffed and lying on the street on one of the hottest days of the year, without an inhaler, water, shade or medical assistance. Mr Taylor was eventually moved into a police car in an effort to cool him down, but after only a few minutes in the car he suffered a cardiac arrest. He died in hospital later that evening.

The inquest heard that although the police were told the ambulance service had suspended responses to all but the most urgent calls, the officers with Mr Taylor did not consider driving him to a hospital, which was only two streets away. The Met Police’s policy is that officers are allowed to drive detainees to hospital in exceptional circumstances. Their training is clear in that those circumstances include instances where ambulances are severely delayed, and when it is believed that a person will die or that their health will seriously deteriorate if not taken to hospital immediately. However, the officers appeared not to believe that Mr Taylor was seriously unwell, telling him to “stop acting up” and to “grow up”. One described Mr Taylor’s pleas for help as “all a load of nonsense”. In addition, the officers present appeared unaware of the Met’s policy and were repeatedly heard saying on body worn video (BWV) footage that they could do nothing but wait for an ambulance.

BWV footage viewed at the inquest showed Mr Taylor on the floor, telling officers that his airways were closing up, that he needed his inhaler and that he was dying. Although the police looked for his inhaler, they were unable to find it. On at least three occasions when Mr Taylor told the officers that he could not breathe, officers can be heard responding, “you can breathe, because you are breathing”.

Mr Taylor repeatedly begged officers to take off the handcuffs to ease the situational stress upon him. This request was repeatedly refused, due to the perceived risk he posed to officers through allegedly having been in possession of a hammer earlier in the day. Mr Taylor himself and the area around him were searched by officers and no hammer was found. Despite this, he remained handcuffed, with officer safety being prioritised over his heath.

The police are trained to measure the respiratory rate and vital signs of people suffering from asthma in order to assess the severity of their condition. The officers responsible for monitoring Mr Taylor did not do this. One officer was captured on BWV footage fetching water for herself from one of multiple plastic water bottles in a police car. When asked at the inquest why she did not offer water to Mr Taylor, she stated that this water, “belonged to other officers”.

Another police officer was recorded telling his sergeant that Mr Taylor was “playing the old ‘poor me’ card”. Six minutes before Mr Taylor went into cardiac arrest, he reported that Mr Taylor was, “saying he’s got chest pains, he can’t breathe, blah blah blah, it’s all a load of nonsense, but there we go”. When giving oral evidence at the inquest, this officer was asked several times by HM Coroner whether he had learned anything from the incident or would do things differently now. He was unable to specify a single action or learning point, maintaining that he would not change his actions in a future similar situation.

After about 25 minutes on the ground, Mr Taylor was eventually moved to a police car, where it was thought he would be cooler. It took the efforts of two police officers to walk him to the car, as by this point Mr Taylor could barely stand. When Mr Taylor had difficulty getting into the car, one officer can be heard laughing on the body worn video footage and another saying, “you’re not helping yourself”.

Once in the car, Mr Taylor was told again by an officer that there were no ambulances available and to “stop acting up” and to “grow up”. The court heard evidence from two medical experts that Mr Taylor’s asthma symptoms were likely to have been worsened by the additional stress and panic Mr Taylor would have felt from thinking that he was not believed and that no help was coming.

After only a few minutes in the car, Mr Taylor went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing completely. The officers pulled him out of the car and started performing CPR. Paramedics then arrived and took over but sadly Mr Taylor died in hospital later that evening.

The court heard that the London Ambulance Service were extremely busy at the time of the incident due to the hot weather that day, with temperatures reaching a high of 34C. This led to the service holding all calls except the most urgent, meaning an ambulance was not available to be dispatched to Mr Taylor when the police first requested one.

There was also confusion within the London Ambulance Service over the appropriate categorisation for the electronic alert sent by the police about Mr Taylor, and a lack of staff available to call the police back to get more information about his condition. Initially, the alert was placed in category 3: the lowest priority band, which has a target attendance time of two hours. One witness from the London Ambulance Service testified that once the police had updated them that Mr Taylor was having “great difficulty breathing” and had a head injury, the alert should have been upgraded to category 2 (which has a target wait time of 18 minutes), however it remained at category 3.

Although, at one late stage, an ambulance was allocated to Mr Taylor, it was then diverted to a more urgent call. The London Ambulance Service has acknowledged that the police should have been informed of this.

Submissions were made during the inquest in respect of race being a factor in the decision making of the Met Police. HM Coroner heard that in her independent review into Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody, Rt. Hon. Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC deals specifically with race and the investigative process of policing. She notes that the “stereotyping of young black men as ‘dangerous, violent and volatile’ is a longstanding trope that is ingrained in the minds of many in our society.” She further writes that INQUEST reported that its casework revealed a use of force and restraint that is disproportionate to the risks posed ‘especially where there is one detainee and a large number of officers’. She continues: “the perceived risk posed by the detainee may obscure people to their vulnerability … [s]uch perceptions increase the likelihood of force and restraint being used against an individual who may be unwell. The detainee is effectively dehumanised. In such circumstances the police officers may also use force and restraint in order to gain compliance to the exclusion of any focus on the wellbeing of the detainee which can ultimately lead to a medical crisis or death.”

Crucially, Dame Angiolini notes that “[t]here is also concern that assumptions made about someone may lead to the denial of medical care. Experienced officers may believe they know when someone is faking an illness, but such assumptions can prove fatal.” She refers to the death of CA, where “[o]fficers laughed and joked whilst he lay dying on the floor of the custody suite. They reported that he was faking. He died after being left unconscious face down on the floor for 11 minutes.”

In his concluding remarks, the coroner said that he was surprised the officers did not automatically think about the distance to the hospital when assessing whether to take Mr Taylor there in the car. Regarding their monitoring of Mr Taylor’s respiratory problems, the coroner said that for some of the officers in this case, it was not a matter of lack of training but a lack of application of their training. In addition, HM Coroner described it as “dismaying” that the Met Police had done nothing for the last three years to address the conduct of the officer who had dismissed Mr Taylor’s pleas for help as “nonsense”. The coroner has now referred this officer to the IOPC for further investigation of his conduct.

Legal team: 
Courtney Smith acted for Mr Taylor’s aunt, Ms Pauline Taylor and the wider Taylor family. They were represented at the inquest by Daniel Grutters, of One Pump Court Chambers.

Mr Taylor’s Aunt, Pauline Taylor, said: “‘I need my inhaler…I can’t breathe…I’m dying.’ These were the last pleading words of my nephew. He died on the street begging for help, not from just one, but seven police officers who casually dismissed his pleas and even went so far as to laugh and mock him. What more could he have said in those moments to solicit help and simple humane compassion from those who are sworn to serve and protect. What has been learnt? One officer said that he would do exactly the same given the same set of circumstances…May God help us! Our family is broken, our pain wakes us each morning and steals into our dreams at night, but in trying to heal we recognise that the disclosures relating to Ian’s untimely and cruel death can be used as a tool to bring about better training, effective practice and holistic awareness and challenge the ugly existence of unbiased racism.”

Supervising solicitor 
Courtney Smith said: “If only the Metropolitan Police would have taken the words of Ian Taylor seriously, it might have prevented his death. He repeatedly told numerous police officers that he could not breathe and that he was dying but his cries for help were dismissed as ‘nonsense’. They did not follow their training, which would have allowed them to take him directly to hospital in a police car, to access the medical care that he so desperately needed. Instead, they left him fighting for his life on the ground, kept him handcuffed and failed to even offer him a sip of water in the 34 degree heat. Stark comparisons can be drawn from the behaviours identified through the Angiolini Review and the conduct of Met Police officers towards Mr Taylor on 29 June 2019, resulting in devastating consequences for Mr Taylor and his family.”

Courtney Smith is a solicitor and supervisor in Duncan Lewis’ Actions against Public Authorities Department, who specialises in inquests and claims against public authorities. She is a member of the Police Action Lawyers’ Group, and holds public authorities to account when they abuse their powers or fail to observe their professional obligations.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised by this article, please contact her for advice via email at or telephone on 020 7923 8416.