Police officers facing misconduct probe over Bianca Williams stop

8 October 2020, 17:11 | Updated: 8 October 2020, 17:36

Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were travelling with their baby in Maida Vale, west London, when they were stopped by officers in July
Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were travelling with their baby in Maida Vale, west London, when they were stopped by officers in July. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Five police officers are being investigated for misconduct by the Independent Office for Police Conduct over stopping Team GB athlete Bianca Williams in a car in London, in July, the Metropolitan Police said.

Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were travelling with their baby in Maida Vale, west London, when they were stopped by officers in July.

The athlete accused police of "racial profiling" over the incident, and she said officers spoke to her partner “like he was scum, dirt on their shoe.”

Read more: Dame Cressida Dick: Bianca Williams stop-and-search video 'doesn't reveal racism'

The Met later apologised for the the distress caused by the incident and referred itself to the IOPC.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick later told LBC's Nick Ferrari that she “didn't accept” that the video of the incident, which was widely circulated on social media, "revealed racism."

The police watchdog said the five officers would be investigated for potential breaches of police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force; duties and responsibilities; and authority, respect and courtesy.

The Met said its own directorate of professional standards reviewed the incident on July 4 in Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, and found no evidence of any breaches.

But it was referred to the IOPC "due to the complaint being recorded and the significant public interest in this matter."

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: "Having analysed a range of evidence including police body-worn, dashcam video and witness statements, we now have a fuller picture of the officers' interactions with the couple and their child.

"As a result, we have taken the decision that this meets the threshold for a misconduct investigation, the allegations will now be investigated thoroughly and independently.

"It is important to note that a misconduct investigation does not necessarily mean misconduct proceedings will follow. Decisions on any further action will only be made once our investigation is complete."

In a statement, the Met Police said: "The IOPC began a detailed independent investigation into the incident and subsequently informed the MPS it had determined a number of officers should be investigated for potential breaches of the standards of professional behaviour.

"The MPS responded, indicating it believed if proven, the failings would only amount to minor breaches of the standards of professional behaviour or performance-related issues. These would not be at the level of misconduct and so suitable for reflective practice. This process is outlined in statutory guidance and would be the appropriate way to address any points of learning for specific officers.

"On Thursday, October 1, the IOPC responded that five officers would be investigated for misconduct. Notices have now been served on those officers informing them they are under investigation. The serving of notices does not necessarily mean misconduct proceedings will follow.

"The officers involved are from the Territorial Support Group. No officer is suspended or subject to restricted duties.

"The MPS continues to fully co-operate with the IOPC investigation."

It added: "The vehicle and its occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were searched. Nothing was found and the occupants were able to continue with their journey. No arrests were made.

"Following the incident, the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards, independent from any officer involved, reviewed the initial material available, including examining the officers' body-worn video footage, social media footage and details of the incident.

"They were content at that early stage there was no indication any of the officers' actions would amount to a breach of police standards of professional behaviour serious enough to justify disciplinary proceedings.

"On Tuesday, July 7, the MPS recorded the matter as a public complaint after the MPS was tagged in the female occupant's social media post and made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The decision to refer to the IOPC was taken due to the complaint being recorded and the significant public interest in this matter."

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