The Independent Office for Police Conduct has confirmed that it has served papers on five Met Officers, letting them know that they are now under an official investigation after they stopped a car with blacked-out windows on it that also had a well-known sports personality in the car.
Athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos were stopped and searched by MPS officers in Maida Vale on 4 July. At the time, the Met released a statement detailing how the car was being ‘driven erratically’ which gave cause to arouse the suspicion of the officers who had spotted the vehicle being driven in such a manner.
Partial video footage of the stop (the point at which officers approached the vehicle, but not the minutes leading up to the stop) was shared widely on social media at the time.
Ms Williams made a complaint about the incident on Twitter, and the MPS subsequently made a referral to the IOPC.
A spokesperson for the IOPC confirmed that the five officers would be investigated for ‘potential breaches of police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force; duties and responsibilities; and authority, respect and courtesy’.
The spokesperson added that concerning the officers’ interaction with Mr Dos Santos these potential breaches include: the manner of some of the officers’ initial approach to Mr Dos Santos; handcuffing Mr Dos Santos initially and keeping him in handcuffs after he had been searched; and his continued detention and whether there were grounds to do so.
In relation to Ms Williams, the potential breaches include taking hold of her without first having sought her co-operation with the search; handcuffing her initially and continuing to handcuff her after she had been searched; her continued detention and whether there were grounds to do so.
The IOPC’s ongoing investigation will focus on:
1. Why Mr Dos Santos’ vehicle was followed and stopped
2. Whether the force used against Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams, was lawful, necessary, reasonable and proportionate
3. If the search of the car, of Mr Dos Santos and of Ms Williams was reasonable and objective
4. Whether there were legitimate grounds for a MERLIN report to be created for their baby who was in the back of the car (note: MERLIN is a database run by the MPS and stores information on children who have become known to the police for any reason)
5. Whether Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos were treated less favourably because of their race
6. The accuracy of the accounts provided by the officers
7. The appropriateness of the communications issued by the MPS during an IOPC investigation.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said:
“Having analysed a range of evidence including police body-worn, dashcam video and witness statements, we now have a fuller picture of the officers’ interactions with the couple and their child.
“As a result, we have taken the decision that this meets the threshold for a misconduct investigation, the allegations will now be investigated thoroughly and independently.
“It is important to note that a misconduct investigation does not necessarily mean misconduct proceedings will follow. Decisions on any further action will only be made once our investigation is complete.”