Met police refers itself for investigation after finding no evidence of misconduct
The past few months have been a time of online hyperactivity, with people gaining more and more time to scroll through their respective Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines, consuming content at will from Grayson Perry’s Art Club to fly-on-the-wall pieces documenting the effort of NHS workers.
Another aspect of lockdown society that was frequently documented on social media was the conduct of the police, who were filmed by members of the public when they stopped and searched them. In particular, there was a proliferation of videos by black members of the public, who were, in some cases, targeted while on a charity bike ride, going out to meet friends, and even within their own home.
One high profile case occurred very recently when Olympic sprinter Bianca Williams was pulled over by the London Metropolitan police while with her partner and her three-month-old son in Maida Vale. Williams says she and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos, a Portuguese international runner, were racially profiled as a result of both being black and driving a Mercedes.
Williams said in a tweet that she and her family had “received an apology for the distress the incident caused us, but significantly, not for the wholly unjustified actions that officers took against our family.”
This specific incident has sparked a conversation around police conduct during lockdown, and subsequently the Met has, after conducting its own reviews and finding no evidence of misconduct, referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The latest stop and search figures for the Met show that while there was a fall in June, this came after an eight-year high of 43,000 stops in May, including 22,000 incidents involving young black men.
A comparison of May this year to 2019 reveals that cases have increased by 103%, from 21,593 to 43,844. More than 80% of the 21,950 searches between March and May resulted in no further action, according to analysis by the home affairs select committee chair, Yvette Cooper.
The committee also heard that in May alone, around one in eight young black males were stopped and searched. Cooper said that 10,000 black men were stopped in May out of a total population of 70,000 to 80,000 in London.
The investigation comes within a febrile political atmosphere, as the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May sparked a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement, causing protests and riots from Minnesota to Manchester.