Custody deaths highlighted as 'Injustice' screened at film festival

University news

Tuesday 21 February 2012

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As the IPCC announces its intention to review the way it deals with police contact deaths, the film that’s been asking questions about deaths in custody for over 10 years is set to be screened at the Bristol Radical Film Festival (27 February – 4 March 2012).

Coventry University Senior Lecturer in Media Production, Ken Fero directed and produced ‘Injustice’ (98mins/2001), a provocatively powerful documentary about the extraordinary, continuing phenomenon of black and Asian people dying mysteriously in police custody, without any prosecution being brought.

The film looks at the period from 1969 to 1999, when more than 1,000 people died in police custody in the UK. Fero concentrates on a number of cases including Brian Douglas, Shiji Lapite, Joy Gardner and Ibrahim Sey; following families and friends as they try to get justice for the deaths of their loved ones.

‘Injustice’ has never been on general release, being pulled from cinemas almost immediately, following legal threats from the Police Federation. Despite this, Fero and Co-director Tariq Mehmood have continued to put on private screenings, and the film has gained international acclaim and a clutch of awards including Best Documentary, BFM London Film Festival 2002; National Social Justice Award 2003; Best Documentary (Human Rights) One World Film Festival 2003; and New Nation Campaign Group of the Year Award 2004.

Coventry University’s Ken Fero said:

“I have always taken a robust attitude when investigating the alleged wrongdoings of police officers. Documentary in its radical form can be a force for change, and ‘Injustice’ aimed to give a voice to those whose concerns were being ignored by the very people who were supposed to defend them.

“After the film was pulled from cinemas, following its UK release in 2001, I decided to organise screenings across the country and internationally, as part of film festivals and at private showings in small independent venues. As a filmmaker, having your work seen and appreciated is essential, and the response from audiences and the media across the globe has been very positive and encouraging for those it sought to help.”

The Bristol Radical Film Festival screens some of the most socially and politically engaged documentaries from around the world. Taking place over a week, screenings are hosted in a variety of community-based venues, culminating in a weekend of screenings, talks, workshops and debates at the not-for-profit cinema, The Cube.

Ken Fero added:

“I am currently working on a 25-minute documentary called ‘Who Polices the Police’, a critique about the Independent Police Complaints Commission, made with the assistance of Coventry University media production students. The death of Mark Duggan after being shot by police in Tottenham, and the subsequent rioting that spread across Britain, has put the issue of investigating police actions onto the international agenda. There have been a number of unexplained deaths in recent months, and the IPCC has been tasked to investigate the facts. This film asks how effective the IPCC is in bringing corrupt officers to justice. I am also working on the follow-up to ‘Injustice’.”

If you wish to view Injustice it is now available online.