Met Police accused of racial profiling after boy, 12, handcuffed over toy gun

24 July 2020, 16:36

Armed police raided the house (file image)
Armed police raided the house (file image). Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

The Metropolitan Police has been accused of racial profiling after a 12-year-old boy was dragged from his home in handcuffs when a passer-by saw him playing with a toy gun.

Alice Agyepong, 42, said dozens of armed officers stormed her Camden home just after 11pm last Friday and detained her son Kai. 

She said the ordeal was “terrifying” and “humiliating”, and lodged a formal complaint.

A passer-by is said to have looked through the family’s half-drawn blinds and reported a “black male with a gun” to the police - later confirmed to be a plastic pellet gun. 

Sniffer dogs and "about 25 police officers, 10 armed officers with weapons with red laser lights" raided the house and reportedly arrested Kai at gunpoint. 

Ms Agyepong told Camden New Journal: “I told them almost straight away that there were no weapons in the house, only a toy gun belonging to my son but we were shouted at to put our hands above our heads and walk one by one out to the street. We were all terrified.”

She said her two daughters, aged 16 and 23, were forced to stand in the street for more than an hour while officers scoured her house for weapons. 

Ms Agyepong, who works as a housing association governance officer in Stratford, said: “He’s a little boy who was sitting in his own home but he was treated like a criminal.

"He’s never been in trouble with the police but he has told me he’s been stopped and searched before when outside playing. As a young, black boy it’s just an occupational hazard really.

“There’s something wrong with society if you can be at home not breaking any laws but in a nano-second police can burst in and put you and your loved one’s lives at risk. This is not America, it’s London.”

Kai was eventually “de-arrested” and allowed back into his home but his mother said the ordeal has left him shaken.

A Met Police spokesman said an internal review of the incident did “not identify any misconduct” and the force has made a “mandatory referral” to the Independent Office of Police Complaints (IOPC).

They told LBC News: "Police were called at approximately 23:00 hrs on Thursday 17 July to reports that a male with a handgun had been seen at a residential address in Camden.

"As is normal protocol in the circumstances, armed police were alerted and subsequently attended the address in Somers Town at around midnight.

"A male in the property was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and taken into a police van outside the house. The other residents were escorted out of the property while a search was conducted.

"In the process of this, officers found an item which was identified as a toy 'bb' gun and not a firearm.

"The officers immediately de-arrested the youth and he and the other members of the family returned into their address.

"Following the incident a senior officer from the firearms command contacted the teenager's mother to discuss her concerns."

The IOPC said it had received a mandatory referral which "will now be assessed to determine if IOPC involvement in any investigation is required”.

The Met was embroiled in another racism row earlier this month after Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner were dragged from their car, where their baby was sitting, during a stop in search in London.

The incident prompted outcry, but Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told LBC earlier this week that she “doesn’t accept” that a video of the arrest “reveals racism.”