Met Police officer investigated for 'racially aggravated assault' after woman wrongly arrested over bus fare 'evasion'

23 October 2023, 13:25 | Updated: 23 October 2023, 13:26

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched a criminal investigation (stock image)
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched a criminal investigation (stock image). Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A criminal investigation has been launched into a Met Police officer for alleged racially aggravated assault and false imprisonment after a woman was wrongly arrested for bus fare evasion.

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The police officer is also under investigation for potential gross misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said as it launched an investigation on Monday.

The woman was arrested in Whitehorse Road, Croydon, on July 21, with footage showing her shouting as she was handcuffed in front of her young son.

She was then de-arrested after it was confirmed that she had, in fact, paid her bus fare.

The Met Police officer is on restricted duties (stock image)
The Met Police officer is on restricted duties (stock image). Picture: Alamy

"The decision to conduct a criminal investigation is not something we take lightly and was made after careful consideration of the material we have gathered to date, including liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)," IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said.

"It's important to emphasise that this development does not necessarily mean that criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow.

"At the conclusion of the investigation, we will decide whether to refer a file of evidence to the CPS for a charging decision and also decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings.

"Representatives for the woman and the officer have been advised of this update and we will keep them informed throughout our investigation."

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Police said the woman had refused to show her pass to a Transport for London (TfL) ticket inspector before her arrest.

A complaint was then made to the IOPC, with a family member alleging that the woman had been racially profiled and verbally abused by a police officer.

The woman who was arrested has also submitted a complaint about how she and her son were treated.

Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, who leads policing in Croydon, said: "This incident caused a great deal of concern in the community when it happened and when a video showing part of the events was shared on social media.

"The incident was clearly distressing for the woman involved and particularly her child."

Mr Brittain added: "As the IOPC has stated, the launching of a criminal or misconduct investigation is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing and we await its conclusions after all the available evidence has been gathered and fully examined."

The officer under investigation remains on restricted duties.