A five-week hearing into the stop and search of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos has concluded that the TSG officers involved in the stop and search did not stop the vehicle being driven by Dos Santos because of his ethnicity.
However, the hearing did find that two officers lied about smelling cannabis coming from the vehicle after the vehicle was stopped. The panel did accept that the smell of cannabis was in the air, however, determined that, on the balance of probability, the officers lied about it coming from the vehicle.
On 4th July 2020, officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) noticed a vehicle with blacked-out windows which was being driven erratically in Maida Vale, London.
Officers were patrolling the area after an increase in violent crime. As reported at the time, the officers spotted a vehicle with tinted windows being driven on the wrong side of the road.
As they attempted to catch up with the car, it made off from them at speed. The vehicle came to a stop, and after a few seconds, the TSG ‘carrier’ caught up with it.
Officers exited the police carrier, not knowing who was inside the vehicle or whether it might attempt to make off from them again.
Inside the car was Bianca Williams and her partner, along with their 11-month-old son.
Ms Williams recorded the point at which officers tried to secure the vehicle and its occupants on her mobile phone before uploading the footage to social media. The partial clip of the incident soon went viral.
Shortly after the incident, the Met released the following statement:
‘At around 13:25hrs on Saturday, 4th July, officers from the Territorial Support Group were patrolling in the W9 area in response to an increase in violence involving weapons.
‘Officers witnessed a vehicle that was being driven in a manner that raised suspicion, heavily braking and accelerating, which included driving on the wrong side of the road.
‘They indicated for it to stop, but it failed to do so and accelerated off.
‘The officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road.
‘The driver initially refused to get out of the car.
‘The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were informed that they were being detained for the purposes of a search under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
‘They were both handcuffed due to the officers’ views, which took into account the manner in which the vehicle was being driven, that the vehicle was attempting to evade police, and due to the driver refusing to leave his vehicle.
‘Following a search of the vehicle, the man and the woman, nothing was found. No arrests were made, and the occupants were allowed on their way.”
The panel determined that PC Jonathan Clapham and PC Sam Franks had lied about smelling cannabis in Mr Dos Santos’ vehicle and, as such, had breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour relating to honesty and integrity. Four other allegations against them were found not proven. Both officers have been dismissed from the Met without notice.
The panel found that all allegations against three other officers, PC Allan Casey, Sergeant Rachel Simpson and PC Michael Bond, were not proven.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said:
“The misconduct hearing panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair, has heard detailed evidence over five weeks to reach its conclusions today.
“While the panel accepted the officers’ version of events in most matters, including that their decisions were not motivated by ethnicity, it found that PC Clapham and PC Franks lied about smelling drugs on stopping the vehicle.
“Honesty and integrity are at the core of policing and, as the panel has concluded, there can be no place in the Met for officers who do not uphold these values.
“Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams deserved better, and I apologise to them for the distress they have suffered.
“It is essential that police officers are held to account for our actions, and the Commissioner has been clear that we welcome scrutiny. However, it has taken over three years for these misconduct investigations to conclude. This length of time benefits nobody and has had a real and significant impact on the lives of everyone involved – the officers and their families, as well as Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos.
“We are pleased that this issue will form a central part of the Home Office accountability review, the details of which were announced earlier this week.
“Today’s findings also highlight that we still have a long way to go to earn the trust of our communities, particularly our black communities, when it comes to our use of stop and search
“We are committed to pursuing new and bolder approaches, including more training for officers, better guidance on the use of handcuffs, using stop and search more precisely in our highest violent crime neighbourhoods and more precise engagement with those most affected.
“I remain confident that the Met can and will learn from the experiences of Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos and work alongside communities to deliver fair and effective stop and search for all Londoners.”
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