Claims of racial profiling by police to be investigated in England and Wales

  • london
  • July 10, 2020
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The police watchdog is to investigate whether officers across England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minorities.

The review will focus on their use of force and stop and search powers, said Michael Lockwood, director general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

He said this would involve independently investigating more cases where racial discrimination may be a factor “to develop a body of evidence to identify systemic issues which should be addressed”.

Police apology over athlete stop and search

This includes cases where victims from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities have felt unfairly treated by the police.

It could also include whether the police are treating allegations of hate crime from BAME people seriously, and if there are cases where they are failing to treat them as victims of crime.

Mr Lockwood said the review – to be launched in the coming months – would aim to establish “the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice”.

“Evidence of disproportionality in the use of police powers has long been a concern which impacts on confidence in policing, particularly in the BAME communities,” he said.

“But even with the numbers and the statistics, particularly from stop and search data, we still need to better understand the causes and what can and should be done to address this.”

Bianca Williams, with her partner Ricardo dos Santos, says she was left ‘really scared’ by the incident

It comes after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick apologised this week to Great Britain sprinter Bianca Williams for the “distress” caused by a stop and search.

The Commonwealth gold medallist claimed officers racially profiled her and her partner, Portuguese 400m record holder Ricardo dos Santos, when they were handcuffed and separated from their three-month-old son after a traffic stop in London at the weekend.

Williams, 26, told Sky News the incident left her “really scared” and made her feel “like we were the scum of their shoe” after footage of the incident was posted on social media by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie.

Bianca Williams (second from right) with fellow British sprinters at the 2018 European Athletics Championships

The Metropolitan Police subsequently reviewed footage of the incident, taken from multiple cameras, but said no misconduct had taken place.

But after “significant public interest” in the matter, the force referred itself to the police watchdog.

The Met receives more than 250 complaints alleging racism on average each year, and less than 1% are upheld, according to a report by The Guardian.

Mr Lockwood, who noted the IOPC only sees a small number of cases where discrimination is alleged, said: “Increasing our focus on investigating cases where racial discrimination may be a factor means we will be able to really look at these encounters between the police and the public to identify any emerging themes.

“This is about identifying where we are seeing good and bad practice.”

He added: “We know this is an issue of community concern. Our police forces can only police effectively with the trust and confidence of the community they serve.”