Met police ordered to launch inquiry into claims that officers refused to arrest Akram Uddin
The Metropolitan police force has been ordered to launch an inquiry after a court heard that an escaped prisoner, who had been jailed for firearms offences, spent a month trying to hand himself in to officers but was repeatedly turned away.
Akram Uddin admitted to absconding from an open prison to see his mother on 17 June. His lawyers told his sentencing hearing on Friday that seven times he asked police to arrest him for it and seven times they refused.
“This case, more than any other I have heard or have been involved with in my last two decades of practice, perhaps illustrates the extent of the managed decay of the criminal justice system,” Uddin’s lawyer, Liam Walker of Doughty Street chambers, told Maidstone crown court on Friday.
He detailed several attempts he said Uddin and his solicitor made to have him voluntarily taken back into custody at a south-east London police station. According to his solicitor, Kamal Channa of Brooklyn Law, he first walked into Lewisham police station on 13 July but was turned away.
During several attempts recorded by Channa, Walker told the court Uddin and Channa were variously told that there was and was not a warrant out for his arrest. Uddin’s final attempt was on 13 August, Walker told the court, adding that his client was told to go back to the police station six days later. One day before that, however, he was eventually arrested.
“It is utterly astonishing that, when Mr Uddin asked to be taken back into custody, he was refused. There is little more that an escaped prisoner can do than instruct his solicitor that he is going to a particular police station, attend that police station with a bag, say he has escaped from prison, give his full details and ask to be arrested and taken back,” Walker told the court.
“To badly paraphrase Oscar Wilde: to pass up the opportunity to arrest an escaped prisoner once may be regarded as misfortune, to pass up that opportunity seven times is an utter shambles.”
The judge, Charles Gratwicke, demanded that the Met police conduct an inquiry and present its findings to the court within 28 days. He told Uddin he had no reason to doubt that he made efforts to hand himself in, though he made no observation in relation to the chronology his lawyers outlined. Uddin was jailed for four months for absconding from prison.
A Met police spokesman said: “We are aware of claims made in mitigation during the sentencing of Akram Uddin at Maidstone crown court on Friday 18 September.
“After being made aware of the comments made in court, we are conducting a review to establish the facts of these claims.
“If an individual attended a police station in the Metropolitan police area to confirm they were wanted for a criminal offence, their name would be put through the police national computer to confirm this.
“Even if that person is not wanted, there would be a record of that name having been entered and by whom. From an initial review of our systems, there is no record of an Akram Uddin having attended Lewisham police station on dates between 13 July and 13 August.”