Hip hop record store was run by undercover police, new investigation reveals
North London's Boombox was part of a £500,000 sting operation targeting perpetrators of "gun crime and violence"
An investigation by Vice has revealed that a former North London hip hop record store, Boombox, was operated by undercover police officers as part of a sting operation.
As part of 'Operation Peyzac', a £500,000 operation from the Metropolitan Police to control gun crime and violence in the area, the record shop had a private recording studio which was wired with CCTV and recording equipment.
In 2016, the Daily Mail reported that a total of 37 armed criminals and drug dealers - including 30 gang members - were jailed for a total of more than 400 years from the Boombox operation.
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The men arrested through Boombox were mostly Black, aged between 16 and 41 according to Vice.
“The undercover officers sought to portray themselves as having unspecified criminal links in order to infiltrate relevant persons to gather evidence on their levels of criminality,” says Abbas Nawrozzadeh, a senior consultant solicitor at Eldwick Law to Vice.
He adds: “This was one of the largest undercover operations in London in recent years.”
Nawrozzadeh was the defence solicitor for a 19-year-old Black man that was arrested through Boombox.
Speaking on the case he said: “Our client, like many of the other defendants, looked up to the undercover officers as ‘olders’ – experienced and credentialled, including with regard to criminal ties, music producers who were able to make them famous”.
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“Undercover policing has had to change over time and adapt to quite a challenging environment. But it’s still effective,” says Richard Carr, a former Merseyside Police Detective Superintendent and lecturer at the Liverpool Centre for Advanced Policing Studies.
“I think that undercover policing has got a vital part to play in policing. But it’s got to be done ethically and proportionally. You’ve got to play by the rules. It all needs to be authorised.”
“Some of these may be innocent people who have been entrapped. And I don’t know whether that’s the case [here], but what it doesn’t mean is that undercover policing is ineffective,” he adds. “It means that this operation hasn’t been as ethically sound as you would want.”
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Video and Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter