Police Scotland accused of brutality during migrant raid protests

25/11/2016
Nathanael Williams

As campaigners take direct action, police face accusations of brute force 

ACTIVISTS have accused officers from Police Scotland of a “brutal response” to protests held against the removal of a Kenyan man by Home Office services in Glasgow.

Last night [Thursday 24 November] a group of campaigners held an emergency demonstration outside the Home Office Scotland branch HQ in Brand Street, at 4.30pm, in response to the detention Robert “Babu” Makutsa.

Despite Police Scotland’s previous assurances that they do not regularly assist the UK Home Office in raids and detentions, protests claim that up to 15 officers were deployed to assist the transfer of Makutsa by van to Dungavel detention centre. The below video from the Unity centre appears to show several Police Scotland officers tussling with protestors.

Speaking to CommonSpace, Polly Urquhart of the Unity Centre, who witnessed the incident, alleged: “A 17 year old girl was grabbed by a much bigger male officer and thrown to the ground. Many others were violently pulled away by the police, pulled and restrained by the hair and the back of their necks, pushed to the ground on numerous occasions.”

Makutsa, who is now in detention, has lived in Glasgow for seven years after completing his studies. As a result of his impending removal from Scotland to Kenya, campaigners say he faces a future of separation from his support network, home and his partner.

Having been detained after a raid, his friends had planned to block the progress of the van taking him to the Dungavel detention facility, which is due to be closed next year. In response to this direct action the police were called and according to the campaigners they then used “disproportionate force” to remove protestors and bystanders at the scene.

Urquhart added: “Following encounters like these, where peaceful protests are met with a disproportionate and aggressive response, we have to question the credibility of Police Scotland and their role as the strong arm of the Home Office. Despite Police Scotland’s claims that they do not work as part of the immigration system, we see time and again that they are on call at every opportunity to defend the racism and brutality of the Home Office.”

“Despite Police Scotland’s claims that they do not work as part of the immigration system, we see time and again that they are on call at every opportunity to defend the racism and brutality of the Home Office.” Polly Urquhart

Groups such as the Unity Centre, a body providing practical and legal advice for those detained by immigration services, said that they had gained assurances from Police Scotland in a freedom of information request (FoI) that the force does not “routinely attend enforcement visits”. Friends of the detained man expressed their concern that the force used to ensure the van taking Makutsa left for Dungavel was beyond the “reasonable” level stipulated under Section 146 of the Asylum Act 1999.

They stress that this latest use of alleged disproportionate force in aiding Home Office detention shows a credibility gap in what Police Scotland says and how it handles immigration and detention.

In March of this year, Police Scotland used dogs and up to 30 officers to break up another peaceful blockade at Brand Street. Protesters blockaded the Border and Immigration Agency where Beverley Vaanda Kanjii was detained and faced deportation, despite being at risk of persecution in her native Namibia for her sexuality.

When contacted by CommonSpace, a spokesperson from Police Scotland stated that the force had no current comment on the events, but did confirm that one person in the incident. The UK Home Office did not respond when asked for comment on Makutsa’s case.

Picture courtesy of Unity Centre

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