The IOPC has confirmed that a Met Police officer who arrested a female on suspicion of fare evasion is now being investigated for potential criminal offences related to racially aggravated assault and false imprisonment.
In a statement, an IOPC spokesperson confirmed that the officer is additionally being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour, amounting to gross misconduct.
A partial video clip of the incident – filmed by a bystander – was uploaded to social media, which soon went viral. The clip does not show what happened before the woman was arrested.
The IOPC said they received a complaint three days after the incident from a family member that was made on the woman’s behalf, alleging that she was racially profiled and verbally abused.
Following her contact with IOPC investigators, the female then made further complaints against the Police relating to the treatment she and her son received during the incident.
During the investigation, the IOPC reviewed the body-worn camera footage and CCTV footage from the bus the woman exited.
The incident happened on Whitehorse Road, Croydon, on 21 July as officers from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command supported Transport for London revenue inspectors in the area.
TfL inspectors were checking tickets as part of their fare evasion operation, with police only becoming involved where details were not provided or where someone tried to leave when challenged.
Having alighted from the bus, the woman – who was with a child – was requested to show her ticket.
When she failed to do so, she was initially approached by a TfL inspector, followed by a PCSO, and eventually by a police officer.
The Met Police stated that, even after multiple requests, she persisted in walking away without showing her ticket.
Consequently, she was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion and handcuffed.
However, when officers managed to retrieve and inspect her ticket, confirming its validity, she was immediately de-arrested, and the handcuffs were taken off.
Throughout the incident, a child was comforted by a PCSO who immediately recognised his distress.
Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, responsible for policing in Croydon, said:
“This incident caused a great deal of concern in the community when it happened and when a video showing part of the events was shared on social media. The incident was clearly distressing for the woman involved and particularly her child.
“Because of that concern, we made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is now carrying out an independent investigation.
“We are co-operating fully with the investigation and are aware of today’s update from the IOPC.
“It is important the incident is thoroughly investigated to understand what happened. As the IOPC has stated, the launching of a criminal or misconduct investigation is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing, and we await its conclusions after all the available evidence has been gathered and fully examined.”
IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said:
“The decision to conduct a criminal investigation is not something we take lightly and was made after careful consideration of the material we have gathered to date, including liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
“It’s important to emphasise that this development does not necessarily mean that criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, we will decide whether to refer a file of evidence to the CPS for a charging decision and also decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings.
“Representatives for the woman and the officer have been advised of this update and we will keep them informed throughout our investigation.”
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