Statement from Newham Monitoring Project.
A group of Newham Monitoring Project Community Legal Observer volunteers were today “banned” from entering Stratford Park, a site open to the general public who wish to watch the free Olympic livescreens, by security on the ground who apparently accused them of “making it easy for criminals and giving them tips” when giving out Stop and Search rights-information cards to members of the public.
Security at the park are searching people, who appear to be mainly local residents, before entering the park. NMP understands the security at this venue to be under the jurisdiction of the local council London Borough of Newham (LBN).
NMP has contacted the Head of Events and Sponsorship at LBN immediately explaining the observers’ role and to raise its concerns about how security are using their powers and to challenge any attempt to block independent rights observers in their movements. As of yet no response has been received.
In a later development, legal observers on a next shift who had successfully entered the park, have reported they were approached by the Head of Events at LBN who apparently said she wanted them to leave because the rights-cards were causing “litter”. The observers offered to stop handing out cards for the time being but the LBN staff member said she still wished them to leave the park. She apparently also told the observers she had been contacted by NMP earlier today. We are left wondering why LBN appear to have delayed responding to our earlier communication detailing the role of rights observers and have instead continued to ban the observers.
NMP is deeply alarmed by any attempt to curtail the movements of independent human rights observers and with it prevent members of the public being provided with rights information. We are also alarmed at any unfounded insinuation of criminality towards the local community. Our observers have simply been speaking to and providing rights cards to the public – mainly local residents – entering the park today. By alleging that our legal observers are effectively making things “easy for criminals and giving them tips” indicates a worrying mindset towards the members of the public using the park.