Episode seven: Hot to touch
“At the moment we are searching for truth, but ultimately the family want justice.” Aamer Anwar, Bayoh family lawyer
On the first day of each new hearing in the Sheku Bayoh public inquiry there is now a ritual. Campaigners in support of the Bayoh family gather outside the building with banners and calls for justice.
When Kadi Johnston – Sheku’s sister – arrives, she and family lawyer Aamer Anwar walk across the square towards Edinburgh’s Capital House, where the inquiry takes place.
Before going through the doors, she stands in front of campaigners and takes the mic, thanking people for giving her “the strength and the energy to walk through those doors”.
And then she takes her place in the public gallery.
This hearing in the long running inquiry focuses on Police Scotland training. It’s full of acronyms for police protocols and procedures, making it easy to lose sight of the family’s fight for justice. So this episode starts there.
Inquiry brings new revelations
But it also contains some startling new revelations about policing both back in 2015 and now.
We hear about senior Police Scotland officers’ inclusion in a US conference with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) – where they offered expertise on “the legal use of force” in the case of mental illness when someone is in possession of a knife…just days after Sheku’s death.
And they admit that even today serious issues remain, including reports from senior officers that while procedure dictates they should treat acute behaviour disturbance – or ABD – as a medical emergency, police cannot always get an ambulance to attend.
There are also questions about training. For all the claims of revised process and protocol, if police got 999 calls from Hayfield Road, where Sheku died just now, how much would have changed?
The Ferret continues its summary of the evidence heard so far in its award-nominated podcast.
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Presenters: Tomiwa Folorunso and Karin Goodwin
Written and produced: Karin Goodwin
Research: Tomiwa Folorunso
Sound production, recording, editing & sound design: Halina Rifai
Original music by Alan Bryden
Images: Angela Catlin
Listen to all the evidence from the Sheku Bayoh Inquiry, or find out how to get a ticket to attend in person at www.shekubayohinquiry.scot