Five MPS officers face gross misconduct hearing over Bianca Williams search
Five officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are to face gross misconduct hearings for their alleged actions in the stop and search of Team GB athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos.
The hearings relate to an incident on July 4, 2020, when officers from the Territorial Support Group on patrol in Lanhill Road, West London, stopped and searched a vehicle they believed was being driven in a manner that raised suspicion.
Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos, whose three-month-old child was in the back of the car, were handcuffed while they and the vehicle were searched. Nothing was found, no arrests made and the occupants allowed on their way.
Video footage of part of the incident was shared widely on social media at the time. Ms Williams made a complaint about the incident on Twitter and the MPS subsequently made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). On July 9, Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos formally lodged their complaints about the stop and search via their solicitors.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “All five officers – an acting police sergeant and four police constables – will face allegations they breached police standards of professional behaviour for duties and responsibilities and for equality and diversity.
“Four of them also face allegations that they breached the standards for use of force and for authority, respect and courtesy. Three of the five – all police constables – will face allegations that they breached the standards for honesty and integrity and one will face an allegation they breached the police standards of professional behaviour for orders and instructions.
“These matters were assessed as gross misconduct so it will be for the disciplinary panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair to determine whether or not the allegations are proven.
“A sixth officer will attend a misconduct meeting for alleged breaches of the standards for authority, respect and courtesy, duties and responsibilities and for use of force, assessed as misconduct.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid, from the MPS’s Directorate of Professionalism, said: “I acknowledge the IOPC’s direction in this case. We have cooperated fully with the IOPC’s investigation and, in accordance with their direction, are now arranging for an independently-led misconduct hearing to take place. I am sorry for the distress that this incident clearly caused Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the incident showed the need for Dame Cressida Dick’s replacement as MPS commissioner to draw up a “more effective plan to tackle the serious cultural issues” within the force.
“This incident was understandably deeply distressing for Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos, and I, like many Londoners, was disturbed by the footage of what happened,” he said. “I welcome the independent investigation by the IOPC and its findings. It is important there is no further delay and these officers now face gross misconduct proceedings as soon as possible.
“This case is yet another example of why it is vital that the next commissioner has a more effective plan to tackle the serious cultural issues within the Met Police and to regain the trust of Londoners.”
In a statement issued through the couple’s lawyers, Ms Williams said: “I welcome this decision and hope this opens the door for the Met to start being more honest and reflective about the culture of racism which is undoubtedly still a reality within the organisation. A clear focus on the racism problem within the Met by the IOPC is long overdue.”
Mr Dos Santos added: “This has been a long journey, and one which has not been easy. We have been engaged in this process for nearly two years, and who knows how much longer we will now have to wait for the conclusion of the misconduct proceedings. This sheds a light on how difficult it is to ensure the police are held responsible for their failings.”