Bianca Williams decries ‘culture of racism’ as Met police officers face misconduct charges

Bianca Williams, the innocent athlete stopped and searched by the Metropolitan police, has criticised a “culture of racism” within the force as it was announced that five officers will face a gross misconduct hearing over the incident.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct on Wednesday announced the disciplinary charges over the stop of Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, as they drove in a Mercedes in north-west London in July 2020.

Both athletes, who were handcuffed after the stop with their three-month-old baby in the car, said racial bias led to their treatment, which police deny.

Four constables and an acting sergeant face gross misconduct charges, which if proven could lead to them being sacked.

The officers are alleged to have breached standards on duties and responsibilities, use of force, equality and diversity, order and instructions and authority, respect and courtesy and honesty and integrity.

守护者 显露 on Tuesday that the five officers would face gross misconduct hearings.

Williams said on Wednesday: “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.”

Footage of the stop and search was one of a series of videos that surfaced on social media that triggered concerns over the Met and how it was treating black people.

It came as the Black Lives Matter movement took off in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by police in the US.

Police gave as their reasons for the stop that they suspected the elite athletes may have drugs or weapons. Nothing was found and no arrests were made.

After the stop, the then Met commissioner, 克瑞西达·迪克, publicly backed her officers, claiming that “any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car”.

威廉姆斯说: “I feel particularly vindicated by the IOPC’s decision in light of ex-commissioner Cressida Dick’s public efforts to discredit and undermine our complaints, and to trivialise the experiences of black people in the UK and how we are policed. I sincerely hope that the Met’s culture of sweeping these issues under the carpet ends with the former commissioner.”

Williams and Dos Santos were stopped as they returned home from a training session at 1.20pm on 4 七月 2020 in Maida Vale, north-west London, by officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group.

Dos Santos said on Wednesday it was still too difficult to hold the police to account.

他说:“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.”

The officers are understood to deny wrongdoing.

A sixth officer will face claims of misconduct.

The IOPC said: “We established that a police unit followed and then stopped and searched the couple, who were travelling with their baby in a car in Maida Vale, 西伦敦. They were both handcuffed and Mr Dos Santos searched for weapons and for drugs and Ms Williams for weapons.”

The IOPC also said after the stop a safeguarding report called a Merlin report was created by one officer about the couple’s baby and passed to the local council. The police watchdog said the Met should consider “what action it should take over that report and particularly to consider deleting it and make all reasonable efforts to arrange for the local authority to do so”.

The IOPC said the Met should also consider issuing an apology over remarks made days after the stop by Sir Stephen House, now the Met’s acting commissioner,

The Met said: “Sir Stephen stands by his statement as being factually correct at the time and has today … written to the IOPC to reinforce the importance of senior officers being able to respond to questions from our scrutiny bodies openly and transparently, and for advice and clarification of the IOPC’s view of how he and his fellow chief officers, both in the Met and nationally, should respond to similar direct questioning in future.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid, from the Met’s directorate of professionalism, 说: “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.”

The couple’s solicitor, Jules Carey, 说: “The force should apologise now to my clients for how its former chief [克瑞西达·迪克] publicly demeaned them and sought to undermine their complaints.”

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