Home » Breaking » Five Met officers will face a gross misconduct hearing for their alleged actions in the stop and search of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)
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Five Met officers will face a gross misconduct hearing for their alleged actions in the stop and search of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)

 

The Met voluntarily referred the matter to the IOPC shortly after the incident on Saturday, 4 July 2020 in Lanhill Road, W9 due to a complaint recorded and public interest in the matter.

Officers from the Territorial Support Group, on patrol in the area in response to an increase in violence, had stopped and searched a vehicle they believed was being driven in a manner that raised suspicion.

The occupants were handcuffed while they and the vehicle were searched. Nothing was found, no arrests made and the occupants allowed on their way.

The IOPC investigation has now determined five officers, four PCs and an acting Sergeant at the time of the incident, should face a gross misconduct hearing to answer allegations they breached professional standards relating to duties and responsibilities, use of force, equality and diversity, order and instructions and authority, respect and courtesy and honesty and integrity.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid, from the Met’s Directorate of Professionalism, said: “I acknowledge the IOPC’s direction in this case. We have co-operated fully with the IOPC’s investigation and, in accordance with their direction, are now arranging for an independently-led misconduct hearing to take place.

“I am sorry for the distress that this incident clearly caused Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos.”

The hearings, in line with Home Office Police Conduct Regulations, will be led by a legally qualified chair who is entirely independent from the Met. The hearings panel will carefully consider all the available evidence before deciding whether each allegation is proven, if it amounts to gross misconduct and if so, what the sanction should be.

A misconduct meeting will be held for a sixth officer as the IOPC did not find that the alleged actions of this officer were at the level of gross misconduct. The misconduct meeting, with a more senior officer, will determine whether the allegations are proven, if they amount to misconduct and if so, what the sanction should be.

We are aware of the IOPC’s direction on whether a Merlin report should have been created for the couple’s baby. Merlin is a database that stores information on children who have become known to police for any reason so police and partner agencies can have an overview of any relevant information needed to ensure children are protected. We are considering this direction and will liaise with the local authority.

We are also aware of the IOPC’s direction about the appropriateness of a response made by Sir Stephen House, the then Deputy Commissioner, to the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee after the IOPC investigation had begun. The IOPC did not investigate this as a conduct matter. Sir Stephen stands by his statement as being factually correct at the time and has today, Wednesday, 27 April, written to the IOPC to reinforce the importance of senior officers being able to respond to questions from our scrutiny bodies openly and transparently, and for advice and clarification of the IOPC’s view of how he and his fellow chief officers, both in the Met and nationally, should respond to similar direct questioning in future.

We want to give the public confidence in the tactics we use and we recognise that there is a disproportionate impact on some communities. In 2019, before this incident, a review was commissioned by then Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Met’s handcuffing policy in response to significant community concern about the use of handcuffs before an arrest has been made. The review consulted with young black men to understand their experiences and perceptions that handcuffs were used disproportionately against them, and with police officers, to consider their experiences of policing London in the context that violence against officers was becoming more frequent and serious.

This resulted in a new policy being launched in November 2021 to provide a clear framework for officers to ensure the tactic, for which there is a sound legal basis in some circumstances, is justified and recorded every time it is used. This has been coupled with additional training. We continue to work with communities to improve the way we police and to ensure those who interact with us are treated with respect.

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