Residents’ race concerns over Stratford station spot checks

UKBA officers questioning an Asian man outside Stratford Station. Picture: Neil Roberts

UKBA officers questioning an Asian man outside Stratford Station. Picture: Neil Roberts - Credit: Archant

A Newham resident said he was threatened with arrest after taking pictures of police conducting spot checks at Stratford rail station last week.

Neil Roberts, a journalist who lives in Stratford, said he saw 15 to 20 police officers pulling aside people to check their tickets on Thursday (August 1) before referring them to UK Border Agency immigration officers.

Neil said: “Every single person I saw that was stopped was either black or Asian and I wasn’t the only one stopping and complaining about what was going on.

“After the police had spoken to them, they were then approached by the UKBA officers for questioning.

“This was based on nothing at all but racial profiling as far as I could see.”

Neil said he watched the operation for around 15 to 20 minutes before officers approached him and asked why he was taking pictures.

He also claims they threatened to arrest him for loitering if he did not move on.

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A number of people also took to Twitter to express their concerns such as @TheoKydnis who tweeted: “UK Border Agency/police at Stratford station apparently asking anyone who isn’t white for ID.”

Newham police also used their official Twitter account to respond to tweets made by Neil and east London charity RAMFEL, commenting: “Any checks at Stratford station would have been done by British Transport Police with our support.”

British Transport Police said the spot checks were part of a follow-up operation from a similar one they conducted in partnership with the Met’s Safer Transport Command, Greater Anglia, and Transport for London (TfL) on June 10 in which 14 people were arrested, mainly for trying to use fake tickets or travel cards.

They said the operations were primarily a crack down on fraudulent tickets based on intelligence they had received about the practice at Stratford station.

A spokesperson for BTP insisted the spot checks were random and not based on racial profiling. The Home Office also confirmed they had provided some immigration officers from UKBA to assist with the operation.

BTP arrested three people on suspicion of possessing fraudulent tickets, one person on suspicion of possessing a knife, and one person under Section Five of the Public Order Act.