The Metropolitan Police has released a statement after Dawn Butler MP shared a video with the mainstream media of her interaction with the police over the weekend.
Ms Butler was the passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police in Hackney, east London.
Police pulled the vehicle over after an officer incorrectly inputted the vehicle registration mark of the vehicle that Ms Butler was travelling in, into the Police National Computer.
Officers will often input vehicle registration marks into the police national computer while they are on patrol, to ensure that vehicles are legally on the road.
Police cars have Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) in their vehicles which can tell them if a car is insured, who a vehicle is registered to and where the car is registered.
However, after an officer inputted the wrong vehicle registration mark into their system, it indicated to the officers that the vehicle Ms Butler was driving in was registered to someone in Yorkshire.
Whilst clearly this is not a crime, a vehicle being driven hundreds of miles away from where it is registered can sometimes suggest to officers that the car in question warrants a further look.
When the officers stopped the vehicle Ms Butler was travelling in, they did not realise that one of their colleagues had mistyped a digit of the registration mark into their MDT terminal.
Ms Butler recorded the encounter and tweeted: ‘I just got stopped by the police driving through Hackney….More details to follow. I recorded the whole incident’.
A spokesperson for the Met Police said:
‘Prior to stopping the vehicle, an officer incorrectly entered the registration into a police computer which identified the car as registered to an address in Yorkshire.
‘Upon stopping the vehicle and speaking with the driver, it quickly became apparent that the registration had been entered incorrectly and was registered to the driver in London.
‘Once the mistake was realised the officer sought to explain this to the occupants; they were then able to continue on their way.
‘No searches were carried out on any individuals.
‘I’m concerned about the reason for the stop…that’s what I am concerned about. Because, you know, we should be able to drive wherever we want in London because you’re not just contained to the area where you live…so that is my concern.
‘So if you are just profiling people who are driving outside of their area, I think that is a ridiculous reason…If you are profiling people who are driving a certain type of car, that’s an inappropriate reason to stop someone.
‘If you are profiling people because of the colour of their skin, that’s an inappropriate reason.
‘I’m a member of Parliament.
‘So this is why it is interesting to me because I have been doing a lot of work with the police and stop and search and how the police are stop and searching and the way you do it and the way your profile.
‘Cos what you do is create an environment where you create anonmisity’.
The video then ends before the police officer, who listened throughout the encounter, has a chance to respond to Ms Butler’s concerns.
The London Borough of Hackney, the area where Ms Butler was stopped, has amongst the highest levels of crime in the capital.
In June alone, there were 2313 reported incidents including 42 robberies, 70 thefts from a person, 120 public order offences, 379 recorded incidents of violent crime, 128 incidents of vehicle crime, 134 recorded burglaries, 95 drug offences and 921 incidents of anti-social behaviour.
Responding to a tweet published by Channel 4 News in which they quote Ms Butler as saying “The Met Police is systematically racist and it needs to change.”, London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey said:
“I’ve been stopped and searched, Dawn.
“Yes, police make mistakes, but they’re not racist.
“Instead of political attacks, let’s improve relations between [the] police and the communities they serve.
“As Mayor, I’ll back our police. I’ll never defund them”.
Responding to the statement released by the Met, Met Police Response Team Inspector, Ollie Cochran tweeted:
‘Perfectly rational explanation for stop. The outrage should end here.
‘In other news: We still have an epidemic of young people being murdered in the capital and that should be the relentless focus of everyone.’
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