Team GB athlete Bianca Williams' boyfriend blasts 'institutionally racist' Met as two officers sacked for lying

25 October 2023, 16:39

Dos Santos described the Met as institutionally racist
Dos Santos described the Met as institutionally racist. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Metropolitan Police is "institutionally racist" and little has changed since the Stephen Lawrence murder, Bianca Williams' athlete partner has said.

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Ricardo Dos Santos spoke after two of the force's officers involved in the stop and search of him and Bianca Williams were sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

PCs Jonathan Clapham and Sam Franks were found to have been untruthful about the smell of cannabis at the time of the stop on July 4 2020.

Speaking after their dismissal, Dos Santos, a Portuguese athlete, said: "We've supported the IOPC [Independent Office for Police Conduct] case over the past three years and it's highlighted what most black people are far too aware of regardless of their background, education and employment.

"They are nine times more likely to be stopped by the Met and three times more likely to be handcuffed.

"The allegations made by the police officers that I was guilty of bad driving, threatening violence and drugs were dishonest. I believe these are false allegations and were based on racist stereotypes and show very little has changed in policing in London since the Stephen Lawrence case.

Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos arrive to hear the panel's decision today
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos arrive to hear the panel's decision today. Picture: Alamy

"If you can't trust the police to be honest and accept when they have done bad and stereotype black people, what hope is there? I don't believe that the panel has been brave enough to review what the Casey report has already clearly stated, which is that the Met Police is institutionally racist.

"This case has taken a big toll on our family and on our careers but it's crucial that those people who have a voice use it as those people who don't suffer without being listened to."

Olympic sprinter Dos Santos and his partner and Team GB athlete Williams made a complaint to the police watchdog saying they were racially profiled during an encounter on July 4 2020 with the group of officers.

They were followed by police as they drove to their west London home from training with their baby son, then three months old, in the back seat of their Mercedes.

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they were pulled over outside their property, but nothing was found.

A misconduct panel has now found PCs Clapham and Franks in breach of professional standards around honesty and integrity and they were both dismissed from the force.

PCs Clapham and Franks, along with acting Police Sergeant Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey, and Pc Michael Bond all denied accusations against them, including allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop and search.

Pcs Casey and Bond and Ps Simpson were found not to have breached any standards.

Police body camera footage of Bianca Williams stop-and-search

None of the five officers were found in breach of professional standards in relation to equality and diversity or the use of force.

Read more: Bodycam footage shows shocking moment Bianca Williams and partner handcuffed as officers accused of misconduct

Read more: Met cops who handcuffed and searched Bianca Williams face gross misconduct hearings

The panel judged they wouldn't have been able to see the colour skin of the driver in the split second they turned the corner in front of them.

Bianca Williams and her partner were pulled over in July 2020
Bianca Williams and her partner were pulled over in July 2020. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for "DWB, driving while black".

The IOPC brought the case against the five officers and said that the detention of Dos Santos and Williams was "because they were black" and was "excessive, unreasonable and unjustified".

Karon Monaghan KC, for the IOPC, told the panel at the start of the hearing that the watchdog's case will say there is "institutional discrimination" in the Met Police.

The IOPC's case relied on wider documents and reports that indicated black people are "much more likely" to be stopped and searched in London more generally, and that black people are "routinely treated" with "more suspicion and hostility" by police officers and "stereotyped as criminal".

Dos Santos told the panel while giving evidence that he had been "afraid" for the safety of his partner and his son.

When asked why he should be afraid of the police, the sprinter told of his "traumatic experiences" as a young black person who had been stopped by police on "multiple occasions" in the past.

He said he believes he is stereotyped as a black man driving a "nice car" as someone who "must be engaged in criminality", the misconduct hearing was told.

The panel heard Dos Santos was stopped nine times within four weeks of buying a car in 2018.

When shown body-worn footage of him mocking and swearing at the officers, he accepted his behaviour, saying: "Everybody deals with trauma differently."

Williams cried as she watched footage of Dos Santos getting pulled from the driver's seat to the roadside and handcuffed.

She denied suggestions her partner could have acted differently to avoid police attention, insisting that "he can't change the colour of his skin".

All five officers gave evidence over the course of the misconduct hearing in which they denied accusations of racism.

The panel heard they followed Dos Santos in their police carrier because of the "appalling" and "suspicious" nature of his driving and were doing their duty when they conducted the stop and search.

Monaghan told the panel that these were "exaggerated" descriptions that did not "reflect the reality" of Dos Santos not speeding around corners, indicating before all of his turns, not driving through red lights and not skidding on the road.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said: "While the panel accepted the officers' version of events in most matters, including that their decisions were not motivated by ethnicity, it found that Pc Clapham and Pc Franks lied about smelling drugs on stopping the vehicle.

"Honesty and integrity are at the core of policing and, as the panel has concluded, there can be no place in the Met for officers who do not uphold these values.

"Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams deserved better and I apologise to them for the distress they have suffered."

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "Like many Londoners I was deeply concerned by the stop and search of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos in July 2020 which is why we asked for this matter to be referred to the IOPC.

"The incident raised serious questions about the police use of stop and search and the use of force, particularly against black Londoners, and it is right that the full circumstances of this incident have been heard and assessed independently.

"The findings of the disciplinary hearing will anger and alarm many Londoners, and just shows the scale of the challenge the new leadership team have to change the culture of the Met.

"It is vital lessons are learned from this incident and I will support and hold the Met and the Commissioner to account on delivering the urgent improvements needed so that every Londoner can feel protected and served.

"My Action Plan continues to work to improve trust and confidence in the Met and to address community concerns about disproportionality in the use of certain police powers affecting black Londoners, including stop and search, so that we can build a safer and fairer London for all."

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