Newham Monitoring Project volunteers banned from council Olympics event

A disagreement between Newham Council and the Newham Monitoring Project surfaced after its volunteers were banned from Stratford Park during the Olympics.

Around 100 people trained as ‘community legal observers’ were monitoring police activity during the Games.

But they were told by security guards to leave the council’s Newham Live screening while trying to hand out leaflets.

The volunteers said they were accused of giving tips to criminals and littering the park. The council said it was excluded as the group wasn’t a formal part of the event.

An NMP spokesman said last week the group was alarmed by attempts to curtail the movements of ‘independent human rights observers’ and ‘prevent members of the public being provided with information’.

Volunteers walked the streets of Stratford since the start of the Games to reassure people alarmed by the rise in police activity.

They have been trained on how to give advice and information on stop-and-search.

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A Newham Council spokesman said their consistent position across all the council’s corporate events programme is to refuse requests to leaflet other than for organisations who are a formal part of the event.

He said: “In part, this is to reduce litter associated with distributing leaflets, which we are responsible for clearing.

“We also do not allow such organisations to come into the park with a branded presence – including the wearing of branded shirts or bibs.

“We have no problem with NMP volunteers being on the public highway outside our events handing information to the public or enjoying the Olympics at our Live Sites when they are not working.”