“I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.”
Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye
A few years ago, during the economic crisis, I relocated to London to pursue my dreams of an artistic career and to utilize my skills. Sadly my journey turned into a nightmare and horror story.
There is a dark side to migration, and you need to grow a thick skin. London in general felt stressful and lonely. Sadly I was discriminated against a lot, my rights were abused by English people at a couple of non-profit organisations and on top of this a hate crime was committed against me to get rid of my complaints which police didn’t bother to investigate. A few more horrible events happened (crime again and medical negligence), I was forbidden to complaint and again I didn’t get any police help, nor proper advice on how to sort out the situation.
I had no idea about how horribly migrants can be treated and how cruel, arrogant and ignorant people can be. Nobody stood up for me or helped me during this disaster. On top of this I was wrongly advised about my rights and where to turn for help. It can be tough to navigate the system in a new country and all those things really can add up to turn an unpleasant situation into an absolute nightmare.
It is very difficult to report a crime as police aren’t willing to investigate it and if you are an immigrant they are willing to presume that you are the guilty party. I wish I had known certain things about the British police back then, maybe I wouldn’t overreact to this horror:
Police and Courts
Police are racist and xenophobic. As a migrant, police are less likely to investigate if you are the victim of a crime, and you’re more likely to be presume your guilt. They deal really badly with crimes affecting women, such as domestic violence and sexual assault. It is often difficult to report such incidents, because the police are unwilling to take them seriously and are horrible to the victims. If you’re going to police station take a friend to support you and write down what they say to you. If they refuse to record your complaint, you can go to another police station and try again. If you are reporting sexual assault, domestic violence or a hate crime (e.g. a racist or homophobic attack) it is often easier to find the “Community Safety Unit” and go through them first as they are less likely to be prejudiced. Use Google to find your nearest unit.
Newham Monitoring Group can help in cases of police misconduct especially those involving racism:
0800 169 3111
I found Crimebodge website very helpful later:
I am a really sensitive person and those events really hurt and broke me. It has been a painful time trying to forgive and forget. I returned to my country suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, feeling numb and not wanting anything. Thoroughly fed up with London, with humanity even. I felt like after auschwitz concentration camp, because of all injustice I experienced.
After those events I felt scared that anyone could abuse me and easily get away with it as nobody will bother to protect me or help in the disaster. It was painful that I had paid taxes like everyone else, just to be treated this way and discriminated against so much.
I think the UK has a big problem with discrimination:
“Taking into consideration that since the EU accession years – 2004 and 2007 – overall numbers of Eastern Europeans increased rapidly across all London boroughs and across the UK in general, this phenomenon was met with backlash from the popular media. Eastern Europeans were, and still are, portrayed as invaders from poor countries, often lacking skills and education but overall decent workers. This also created social tensions in local communities.
Because many of Eastern Europeans came to the UK with the intention of building their lives here with very little in their pockets, they were (and often still are) willing to take any job that provides an income. It created the spiral of exploitation and abuse.
This phenomenon has been amplified by poor or lack of provision of any services that encourage integration of newly arrived communities, such as affordable English classes or career guidance appropriate for workers with different educational backgrounds. People often felt used as cheap labour, ostracised, being second class citizens. The longer the route to integration, the less confident and more anxious our communities become. In addition, the way of talking about our communities as a ‘problem’ (as in ‘we have problem with Poles in my council’) aggravate the sense of hostility and not being wanted. It undermines any reasonable intents of integration.
The Brexit referendum opened this wound up. Casual racism and xenophobia became explicit incidents, common in the most important areas close to a victim: at work, in school, in the neighbourhood.”
“But it is the government, not immigrants, who are cutting services, implementing austerity, and doing nothing about high rents and living conditions. It’s the government that is leaving elderly people cold in the winter while giving tax breaks to multinational corporations. Immigrants are being used as a scapegoat by the ones responsible for the strain people are feeling. ”
Advertisement plays a big role in the UK in promoting xenophobia:
“Minorities and vulnerable groups have been experiencing hate in the media for decades. In 2015 the UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, made a powerful statement about these newspapers, urging the UK to examine incitement to hatred in the UK media, and specifically calling out the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express for their sustained attack on refugees and migrants.”
“History has shown us time and again the dangers of demonizing foreigners and minorities… it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used… simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy to arouse in order to win votes or sell newspapers”
After experiencing injustice in London I returned to my own country, but I saw no future there. Many friends had left the country. There is still social inequality, an influence and hangover from the Soviet times. There are still high levels of corruption, a prevalence of theft and stealing, a lack of respect and empathy for others and the evolution of a highly materialistic way of thinking.
It is as if we are stuck in the “wild capitalism” stage, unlike the more welfare and social based western countries.
For the first time, scientists have ranked nations by the empathy of their people, and according to data collected from 104,365 adults across 63 different countries, Lithuania was ranked as the least empathetic country of the bunch: https://www.sciencealert.com/the-most-empathetic-countries-in-the-world-have-just-been-ranked
The Government cynically only cares about big business and other powerful elite interests rather than tackling injustice, poverty and dealing with the fallout and skills shortage that emigration causes.
Sadly London injustice wasn’t compensated and after 3 years nothing can be done. I left the UK scared in shock without any advice about how to sort out this horror. Sadly after all abuse I experienced, police presumed that I am the guilty party. I lost trust in police at all after what happened. I was working and paying taxes in my country (Lithuania) and England, just to get plenty of injustice when needed advice and help during the transition time and slap in the face instead of justice. Because all this horror wasn’t compensated I got into debts and my home situation in my country was affected, can say I lost it. Thank you very much “heroes” of my life. I never felt so angry and fed up with everything I possibly could like during this time.
Anyway, after the setback I decided to move to Scotland in search of a positive Start-up environment. Scotland has a good startup scene and friendly people. Just it is very difficult to start life afresh in a new country, especially if you are alone.
(Print can be found here: https://society6.com/product/hurt-jpa_stretched-canvas?sku=s6-2675343p16a6v28)
After having a really bad experience with London Metropolitan Police I decided to write a short reference guide for people (mostly from underrepresented groups) in case of legal issues in England.
“Police and Courts
Police are racist and xenophobic. As a migrant, police are less likely to investigate if you are the victim of a crime, and you’re more likely to be presume your guilt. They deal really badly with crimes affecting women, such as domestic violence and sexual assault. It is often difficult to report such incidents, because the police are unwilling to take them seriously and are horrible to the victims. If you’re going to police station take a friend to support you and write down what they say to you. If they refuse to record your complaint, you can go to another police station and try again. If you are reporting sexual assault, domestic violence or a hate crime (e.g. a racist or homophobic attack) it is often easier to find the “Community Safety Unit” and go through them first as they are less likely to be prejudiced. Use google to find your nearest unit.
If you are stopped by the police in the street, try to stay calm. They can stop you and question you but you don’t have to answer. They should only search you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you of commiting a crime but in practice they do what they want. They have the right to make you remove your jacket and gloves. You have the right to a record of the arrest, which should have the ID number of the police officer on it.
Stop and search guide:
If you are arrested you have to give the police your name, address and date of birth. Don’t answer any questions without speaking to a solicitor. You have a right to free solicitor for the police interview. Don’t get a solicitor recommended by the police (a duty solicitor), try to find someone recommended by people you know. You have a right to a phone call. You have a right to a translator for you if you don’t speak English.
Newham Monitoring Group can help in cases of police misconduct especially those involving racism:
0800 169 3111
If the police think you are guilty, they may offer you a caution. It means you accept guilt but you will not be taken to court and will not get a fine or a sentence. Caution stays on your criminal record. Get advice from the solicitor before accepting a caution. If you committed a crime but you don’t want to plead guilty, don’t tell the lawyer as they would have to report you.
If you are beaten up by the police you need a medical report as soon as possible. Making complaints against the police is possible but difficult.
Depending on your income, you may get a free solicitor if you are taken to court. If you earn less than £12,475 the solicitor will be free, if you earn more you will have to go through full means test, and if you earn above £22,325 you will have to pay yourself. This is for criminal cases only. In civil cases, such as debt, family or housing problems, you will most likely have to pay yourself. You can use this calculator to check
Complaints and general information about the police:
“Let me describe for you how a typical complaint investigation report reads:
Firstly, the complaint is reworded so it becomes what the police want you to be complaining about, rather than what you really are complaining about. All important issues of police misconduct will either be diffused or completely ignored. All side issues will be amplified so the investigating officer has something to fill the report pages with.
Next, the report will contain a complete retelling of the incident as imagined by the officer concerned, that barely approaches the truth. To describe your part in the event, the police will use words like ‘uncooperative’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘obstructive’. To describe the officer’s part in the event, words like ‘professional’, ‘respectful’ and ‘helpful’ will be used.
After all the muck has been raked and the mud flung, the validity of your complaint will then be assessed. By that, I mean any allegation left over that the police officer didn’t deny. Which will be pretty much nothing.
Investigator’s decision? Complaint not upheld.
A police officer is never wrong.
Even in the unlikely event he is proved to be in the wrong, it will be dismissed as being all your fault.
The reason for this is that the police complaints process refuses to entertain the notion, even for a second, that some police officers can act purely out of spite; let alone that some of their actions are downright criminal. The mandate of the complaints investigator is to apply the golden rule of police misconduct: When a police officer breaks the law it’s merely the result of a ‘misunderstanding’, a ‘mistake’ or a ‘lapse in judgement’. When the rest of us break the law it’s due to outright criminality, nothing else.
How to get ‘value’ out of the police complaints process
So, if the police complaints process is such a futile, waste of time, why do I still encourage people to use it?
Well, in most instances, it is the only avenue of redress available. Surprisingly, most people that do complain want very little action taken and are quite happy to be fobbed off with a swift phone call from a matey sergeant who promises to ‘have a word’ with the officer complained about. Lip service and platitudes are usually all it takes to satisfy most complainants.
However, if you have a good understanding of the law, police policies and procedures it is possible to construct a complaint that the police cannot wriggle out of and nails the offending officer almost every time.
When making a complaint, you should stick specifically to the issues you know for certain amount to a breach of conduct. Avoid making your complaint in highly emotive (or judgemental) language as this will either be ignored or used as a reason to reject your complaint in it’s entirety, labelling you as a ‘vexatious complainant’.
Above all else, NEVER allow the police to resolve your complaint with an informal chat on the phone, or a friendly visit. Not only will nothing be done in respect of the offending officer, these methods are used specifically to avoid the complaint ever showing up on his or her service record and to dodge the formal complaint process entirely.
The police complaints process as evidence
The best advice I can offer anyone who has fallen victim to police abuse of authority, is never use the complaints route when you can bring a legal action instead. It is the most effective resolution process that exists. And unlike police complaints and appeals this route is genuinely independent and cannot be scuppered by the interference of other police officers. Best of all, you may be able to obtain financial compensation rather than empty promises of a hollow reprimand.
So, is the police complaints process a corrupt and futile, waste of time? Yes, if you are unfamiliar with the process and the only people you have to assure you of it’s worth, and guide you through it, are police officers. On the other hand, by composing a carefully crafted complaint, and giving the police just enough rope to hang themselves with, it can be an essential first step in bringing a successful civil action against the police.”