Metropolitan Police Face Misconduct Hearing Over Racial Discrimination Claims by British Sprinter

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An incident from July 2020 involving the stop-and-search of British sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner, Richard Dos Santos, has led to five Metropolitan Police officers facing a gross-misconduct hearing. The couple was stopped in their car in west London where they were handcuffed, searched for weapons and drugs, and separated from their three-month-old son. Even though nothing was found and no arrests were made, the incident raised a storm.

Williams and Dos Santos have pointed the finger at the police force, accusing them of racial discrimination. The officers – Acting Sgt Rachel Simpson, PCs Allan Casey, Jonathan Clapham, Michael Bond, and Sam Franks – have been accused of breaching police standards concerning equality, diversity, use of force, and respect during the stop-and-search. Additionally, Casey, Clapham, Bond, and Franks face claims of misrepresenting their account of the stop.

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The hearing is scheduled to conclude by the 27th of October, at which time an independent panel is to decide whether to uphold the allegations. If proven guilty, the officers could potentially face disciplinary action ranging from demotion and written warning to dismissal from the force – ‘gross misconduct’ being the most serious disciplinary charge an officer could face.

Dos Santos alleges that an officer ripped him out of his car with a raised baton, handcuffed him, and justified the search by stating he smelt of cannabis. Following videos of the incident appearing online, posted by the couple’s trainer – former Olympic champion sprinter Linford Christie – the Metropolitan Police referred itself to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC).

At the time, then commissioner, Cressida Dick defended her officers during a radio segment, stating that any competent officer would have stopped the car and she didn’t personally perceive racism in the video footage. Williams condemned Cressida’s comments, regarding them as an attempt to belittle their complaint and lessen the severity of the experiences black people in the UK face with police.

Further, public scrutiny surrounding the investigation intensified when former investigator, Trisha Napier took to the BBC in January, stating her work on the case was undermined. After resigning in November 2020, Napier announced that she would be taking the watchdog to an employment tribunal. The IOPC, however, has denied her allegations.

Following the incident, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid previously expressed his regret at the distress it had caused Williams and Dos Santos. The unfolding of this case now rests primarily on the upcoming independent panel’s decision.