Police watchdog upholds black cyclist's stop and search complaint

10 September 2020, 18:07 | Updated: 10 September 2020, 18:15

Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick has rejected her force is racist
Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick has rejected her force is racist. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

The police watchdog has upheld a complaint made by a black cyclist in London who was stopped and searched after an officer claimed he could smell cannabis.

Emmanuel Arthur’s footage of the stop at Euston station in November 2019 went viral and prompted outrage. 

At the time he wrote on Instagram: "I am very annoyed at having to go through such a degrading and humiliating experience.

"It seemed to me like a gross abuse of power by an officer who tried to show off to his colleagues and made up a reason as retribution for his failed attempt."

Now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has upheld a complaint by the cyclist, finding the Metropolitan Police officer's grounds for the search, under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, were not reasonable.

But Mr Arthur's complaint that he was racially profiled was not upheld because a review of the officer's stop and search records spanning 12 months found he used the reason of smelling cannabis for "people of all ethnicities and genders”.

The watchdog has told the unnamed officer to undertake "reflective practice".

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: "Stopping someone on the single ground of a suspicion of the smell of cannabis is not good practice and it's right that the officer will have to reflect on this.

"Our investigation found the officer had used the same approach on other occasions, but with people of all sexes and ethnicities. However, it's still important to acknowledge that Mr Arthur felt racially profiled.

"The importance of police officers recognising, and being aware of, the disproportionate impact stop and search has on black communities in particular cannot be understated."

READ MORE: Stop and search not the answer to everything, says shadow policing minister

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The Met Police has been emroiled in a series of race rows in recent months, with Labour MP Dawn Butler, Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and former Olympic champion Linford Christie among those to condemn the force for alleged racial profiling in stop and search. 

The chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association told LBC in June that “the policing system is institutionally racist” amid Black Lives Matter protests that piled pressure on forces. 

Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has defended her officers’ use of stop and search powers, insisting she has “zero tolerance of racist behaviour” and that charges of racism against the force are not “helpful”.