An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the questioning of a black couple in Ipswich is now complete finding no misconduct case to answer for the officers.
Our investigation started after a complaint of harassment and racial profiling was made against two Suffolk Constabulary police officers who stopped and questioned the couple in Ipswich on 9 June 2020.
On 10 June 2020 Suffolk Constabulary received a complaint from the man who was stopped and questioned. A video of part of the incident, which was widely shared on social media, shows a police officer asking the man for identification and proof of residency after he had stepped out of his car onto a private driveway.
The matter was referred to the IOPC by the force Professional Standards Department on 19 June 2020.
Our investigation established that, in the build-up to the events captured on video, an officer was tasked with observing an address nearby, on a separate policing matter. Specifically, he had been tasked with ensuring nobody came or went from the address. While outside he saw the couple’s car drive past twice, prompting him to request enquiries be made of who the couple were.
In light of that evidence we found the officers’ actions in approaching the couple to exclude the man’s vehicle from their enquiries, were objective and not based on racial profiling or discrimination. It was unfortunate that for operational reasons the officers could not provide the couple with a full explanation as to why they were stopped.
Neither of the couple were searched or arrested.
However, out of the ten complaints made by the man, we concluded that on two occasions the officers could have acted more professionally and de-escalated the situation. We have recommended to the force that a restorative practice approach may be beneficial to both parties.
IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “This incident raised concerns about public confidence in policing and not least from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
“To ensure the police are accountable for their actions, it was important to establish all of the circumstances and facts surrounding this incident.
“We examined the stop and found that the actions of the officers were appropriate and proportionate, followed approved police policies and that the officers did not treat the man and his wife differently because of their race. Nevertheless, we found that there was room for improvement in some of the officers’ interactions with the couple who were entirely justified in querying why they were being stopped.”
Anyone who is unhappy about something that happened to them that involves the police can make a complaint to contact the police force involved. Police force websites include information about how to complain. People can also complain in writing, by telephoning 101 or visiting any police station.
- Stats since 1st January 2022
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Crime news from Suffolk Constabulary, the territorial police force responsible for policing Suffolk in East Anglia, England.