MPS officer racially profiled black driver during stop and search

A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer racially profiled a black driver during a stop and search on Old Kent Road, South London, in May 2020, an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has found.

May 5, 2021
By Tony Thompson

The victim, a 27-year-old man, was stopped after being observed while driving. He was placed in handcuffs and his car and his three passengers, who were not handcuffed, were searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act by the officers.

The incident was filmed by the public and widely shared on social media.

The IOPC began its investigation after the man complained that an officer did not provide adequate grounds for a stop and search, that he had been stopped due to his race, that excessive use of force was used during the incident, that damage to his vehicle and mobile phone occurred during the search, and officers failed to observe data protection legislation and social distancing rules.

The IOPC found that one officer had a case to answer for misconduct due to bias as he racially profiled the man during the incident, did not provide adequate grounds for the stop and failed to follow the guidance provided by the College of Policing.

The MPS agreed that the officer should address these issues and focus on what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search and consider the impact of the disproportionate use of stop and search on black and minority ethnic communities.

The investigation also found that the officer breached coronavirus force policy by failing to wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment). This part of the complaint was upheld, and the force will also address this with the officer concerned.

The IOPC established that the officer could have used tactics to de-escalate the situation rather than handcuffing and using the ‘red-dot’ function of the Taser on the man. However, we found no evidence to support the man’s complaint that the officer used excessive force.

IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “Stop and search is an important policing tool but can also be very intrusive and affect the trust and confidence that black communities have in the police service. It is vital it is used with care.

“Our investigation found evidence that racial bias played a part in an officer’s decision to stop the member of the public and the officer will now have to reflect and learn from this.

“It is this sort of incident that can undermine the legitimacy of stop and search as a policing tactic. For those members of the community affected disproportionally by the use of stop and search, they must have confidence that racial bias plays no part in how this policing power is used.”

 

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