On a dark and cold winter evening protesters campaigning for justice for the two men killed in Thames Valley Police's custody held a peaceful vigil outside Slough police station in a town blighted for many years by police brutality, false and malicious arrests and police cover-ups.
On the first anniversary of the death, in Thames Valley Police custody, of 57 year old Philmore Mills, father of 4 daughters, Philmore's family and the family of 39 year old Habib Ullah came together to hold a peaceful candle-lit vigil outside the main police station in Windsor Road, Slough.
Philmore Mills died in police handcuffs on the floor of ward 9 at the local NHS acute hospital Wexham Park. He was an ill inpatient needing an oxygen mask. He was not wanted by the police for anything.
Rachel Gumbs, the eldest of 4 sisters, said
"Our family is determined to get justice for our father Philmore.
We are campaigning for our family's right to know exactly what happened and why it happened. Our dead father can not tell us. We want to get to the truth.
We are doing this for our family and for the whole community because what happened to our father affects us all. It can happened to anyone, at any time.
We hope and expect the investigations into the death of our father in police custody will be conducted fully and fearlessly. Ultimately we seek complete transparency and accountability.
Our father died more than a year ago and this long wait for answers is agonising."
Solicitor for the Philmore Mills family, Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose, a prominent criminal justice and Human Rights specialist told the Slough Times
"For any family to have to face the news that their loved one has died after restraint by the police is devastating, but for it to happen in a hospital setting is very hard for them to comprehend. The delay in bereaved families getting information from the investigators breeds suspicion and mistrust.
The family hopes that all investigations into how Mr Mills died will be truly robust and that they will get the answers that they need as soon as possible."
Habib Ullah, a father of 1 son and 2 daughters, was a passenger in a car stopped by Thames Valley Police in High Wycombe where he lived. Police directed the car into a company's car park and then Habib Ullah died whilst being restrained by Thames Valley Police.
Saqib Deshmukh (left), a longstanding friend of Habib Ullah's family and a leading Justice for Paps campaigner spoke eloquently about the need for accountability and justice. He also said
"People from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean did not come to England to bury their own children because they would die in police custody."
Habib Ullah was known to his family and friends as 'Paps'.
The family told the Slough Times
"Habib's children miss their Dad a lot.
They cannot understand why the police killed him. Their father's death has made them scared of the police, especially Amir, aged 6, and Natasha aged 8.
The children get frightened when they hear a police siren or see a police vehicle. They think the police will come and hurt them like the police hurt their father.
Habib's family miss him most days especially his son Amir who used to play football with him.
Birthdays and special religious days are very difficult and emotional times.
Habib's mother's, Hamida, health has deteriorated since his death. She has suffered very greatly. She never ever expected she would have to bury her own son.
Habib's widow Musarat is distraught much of the time. She is unable to understand why people in police custody keep dying, why the police always investigate the police and why the whole family and their friends have waited 4.1/2 years for decisive action from the British authorities.
At the aborted Inquest we heard the distressing details of how Habib was tortured and inflicted with brutal pain from every angle. You would never even do that type of torture to an animal. The Inquest details were incredibly horrible to hear. We cried a lot. Our tremendous grief continues to this day.
Someone must be responsible. We want prompt action but instead we are unjustifiably forced to wait year after year after year for what is supposed to be British Justice.
What happened to Habib is plainly not right and neither is the 4.1/2 years of perpetual waiting. The whole system is wrong.
We ask for public support to end all deaths in police custody, now and forever.
No more families should ever have to experience this absolutely dreadful nightmare. It is inhuman and degrading for the victims' family and friends.
People must be protected from police violence. Citizens have a Human Right to Life -- that should always be respected by those paid to uphold the law."
A nationally known campaigner against police corruption and misconduct, Michael Doherty (left) joined the police station vigil to support the campaign against Deaths in Police Custody.
Mr Doherty, a director of civil liberties organisation JusticeNOW started his own private prosecution against Metropolitan Police personnel after out-of-control and unsupervised police amazingly and maliciously conspired to bring false charges against him.
Mr Doherty, as a responsible parent, complained to the police about the suspected on-line grooming of his young teenage daughter. Mr Doherty mistakenly believed the police would show some interest in his complaint.
Evidence shown to the High Court suggests the British capital's police, the Metropolitan Police, then tried to stitch-him-up with a conspiracy of deliberately false statements.
Addressing the vigil, Mr Doherty said
"I joined the vigil as I believe those who have had to suffer the death of a loved one at the hands of the police, wrongly have to face the might of a system seemingly bent on ensuring:-
The most desperate cases are those who have lost loved ones.
It is a tragedy of our time that those who have died at the hands of police, who are supposed to protect them, have to face such a clear lack of police accountability.
It is inhumane for the authorities to take advantage of grieving families and relatives. This unfairness is clear evidence of systemic imperfections in our society.
If our society cannot, or will not, deliver justice for our dead who died in police custody, it is most unlikely the system will adequately protect the living.
Philmore Mills is a unique case. When he was supposed to be in a place of health and safety his life was taken.
My heart sank when I heard of this case shortly after his death in December 2011. I knew what lay ahead for his family in getting to the truth. Sure enough one year on, the family are no closer to getting the answers. The family's experience mirrors those families that have gone before them.
I made sure that I got to this important anniversary vigil. I believe it is vitally important that the family of Philmore Mills know they are not alone; that they know there is widespread community support out there for them in their pursuit for justice.
Police corruption is a cancer that reaches beyond the victims and erodes necessary confidence in the criminal justice system."
The peaceful vigil was monitored by uniformed police inspector Mr A Young who carefully watched and listen to the crowd. Mr Young did not address the gathering.
Spectators say that if they, as ordinary members of the public, were involved in the death of a person, it is extremely unlikely the police would wait nearly a year, as in the case of Philmore Mills, to formally question them about the event.
The delay is puzzling because the police officers who were responsible for the dead person's custody, care and welfare - and also responsible for the lawfulness, if any, of the dead person's arrest - have what in law is called material evidence relating to the death. In court cases much emphasise is given to statements given shortly after an event. It is called contemporaneous evidence and potentially valuable because the details are more fresh in a person's mind than a whole year later.
Another worrying police practise, which police always refuse to let the public do, is to create the opportunity for people involved in a serious incident to confer and discuss the incident, on one or more occasions, among themselves in total privacy - before being formally questioned. Inevitably the public are inclined to assume that police statements are being perfected and synchronised before formal questioning of the police by the police.
In the Slough Times opinion the police appear to be operating a dual version of the laws of England with more favourable interpretations of laws applying to police officers despite their legal status as ordinary civilians who have sworn to uphold the laws and to be good and responsible people at all times - on and off duty.
The Slough Times knows there are exceptionally good and exemplary police officers who are a credit, not only to their police force but also to themselves, their families and to the community generally.
With increasing public awareness of worrying examples of police conduct, not only because of the scandalous Hillsborough shame and the jailing of innocent people for murders and other crimes they did not commit, society inevitably seeks continuing and substantiating reassurance the police are not above the law, despite a growing popular belief to the contrary.
The use of the word 'killed' in our article means, in the context we used it, to deprive a Human Being of life accidentally, negligently or otherwise. We imply no guilt and ascribe no responsibly for the tragic event; that is the task of the English system of Inquests.
Michael Doherty's private prosecution against the corrupt Metropolitan Police personnel.
Police charge Michael Doherty with assault