Man dies following raid by police and immigration

September 9, 2008 — News

Written by Harmit Athwal

An investigation is underway as to how a man died following a raid by police and immigration officers at his home in Woodford Green, Essex.

36-year-old Frank Odame was found with head injuries below a block of flats after ‘police officers and UK immigration officials attended a residential address in Lambourne Court, Woodford Green’. A post mortem has been held and the cause of death was given as head and chest injuries. At least four other people are known to have died during similar incidents, Joy Gardner (1993); Joseph Nnalue (1994); Noorjahan Begum (1996) and Joseph Crentsil (2001). All the deaths have occurred in the London area and all but one (Noorjahan Begum) involved the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and immigration officers. (Read the IRR’s factfiles on the Deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.)

The Metropolitan police press release reveals that the 7am visit to Lambourne Court was carried out under Operation Swale. According to the MPS, Operation Swale ‘is a joint operation between the MPS and the Borders and Immigration Agency to tackle immigration crime that blights London’s communities. Codenamed Operation Swale, the alliance was formed in May 2007 in order to crackdown on a small minority of foreign nationals and some UK citizens involved in immigration-related crime and to boost public confidence. The aim is deter criminals from causing harm to our communities by developing a more joined up approach and in doing so encouraging victims and witnesses to come forward.’

Official comment

The Metropolitan police press office declined to say how many police officers or immigration officials were involved in the incident. A UK Border and Immigration Agency spokesperson told IRR News that: ‘the incident is currently being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further’.

In February 2008, ‘The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) took over responsibility for the way serious incidents and complaints involving UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff. The IPCC will deal with those complaints involving UKBA staff who are exercising police-like powers at the time of the alleged incident. The incidents and complaints which are covered by the IPCC include: Death or serious injury.’

However an IPCC spokesperson told IRR News that the investigation had been handed back to the MPS after an assessment was carried out and ‘there was no evidence that there was any contact by the police and immigration officials’ and the man who died.

The death will instead be investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards of the MPS.

The IPCC is involved in two investigations into raids involving the UKBA. In the first in March 2008, a man in his 30s suffered two broken legs after a UKBA operation on a restaurant in Tooting, south London. And the second, in May 2008, involved three immigration officers and a seconded police officer, when a 51-year-old Ghanaian man suffered unspecified injuries after falling from the third floor of a block of flats in Peckham, south London.

Related links

Read the IRR’s factfiles on the Deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants

Download the IRR’s report on the deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants Driven to desperate measures (pdf file, 401kb)

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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