An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation of a complaint by a driver who was stopped and searched in Southwark, south London, during an incident that was filmed and shared widely on social media has found that a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer racially profiled the driver prior to the stop.
The 27-year-old man was stopped after being observed while driving in Old Kent Road SE1 on 2 May 2020. 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 who worked in pairs searching one person each.
We began our investigation in May 2020 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.
Our investigation was completed in January this year and included taking statements from several witnesses and the officers involved, reviewing CCTV and body worn video footage, and MPS policies concerning stop and search and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Officers gave a number of reasons for conducting the search, including the how the man was driving the car and his alleged refusal to stop or get out of the vehicle when asked. Based on the evidence gathered, we found a case to answer for three of the man’s six complaints.
We 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 force 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.
We confirmed that the officer breached Coronavirus force policy by failing to wear proper PPE. This part of the complaint was upheld, and the force will also address this with the officer concerned.
The investigation 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.
We could not determine if any damage was caused to the man’s car or mobile phone and we did not find evidence that data protection legislation was breached.
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.”
Metropolitan Police Service
- Stats since 1st January 2022
124 Misconduct Hearings
89% held in public
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS / "the Met") is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, excluding the square mile of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police.